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Dispelling the bunker mentality 

Photographer Lui to present on U.S. embassy project

click to enlarge United States Embassy in Lima, Peru by Elizabeth Lui.
  • United States Embassy in Lima, Peru by Elizabeth Lui.

As part of the Colorado College Landscape and Built Environment Series, alum Elizabeth Gill Lui will present Building Diplomacy, a view of U.S. embassies, chanceries and ambassadors' residences from around the world. Lui traveled through 50 countries over the past three years, photographing the architectural design of our diplomatic structures with respect to their host country and local environment.

"As a public building, an embassy is a reflection of a nation's values and politics and is indicative of the relations between host and guest," said Lui. "A current goal of our foreign development is a successful balance between aesthetic design and security."

Lui conceived the idea for her study before 9/11 and cites earlier bombings of our embassies abroad as evidence that the State Department, for quite some time, has been active in their response to an embassy's need to secure itself while still promoting accessibility and affability in design.

"It is antithetical to the work of diplomacy to build tall walls and gun turrets to staff armed guards, but as a temporary response to 9/11, it is understandable to protect our workers abroad," Lui explained. "Post WWII, there was a period in which we embraced international modernism as a style, and openness was very much a theme of our architecture."

The United States holds respect for a host country as its highest priority when constructing the edifices that represent us abroad. Especially recently, there has been a growing need to combat the negative personae of "America the imperialist" and "America the arrogant" when making decisions regarding our emissaries.

"To some extent, the architecture of our chanceries serves as a chronicle of our rise to power, and certainly the design reflects the history of the time period and geopolitics of the given day," said Lui.

Attend Lui's presentation to view photographs from her travels and learn more about architecture's reply to America's image abroad. Building Diplomacy ultimately serves as an illustration of the metaphoric nature of our embassies as historic and cultural value indicators.

-- Matthew Schniper

capsule Building Diplomacy by Elizabeth Gill Lui

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m.

Colorado College's Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St.

Free ; Call 389-6006 or visit www.coloradocollege.edu for more

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