U. S. Institute of Peace – did you vote for this?
What is it? I drive by it every day on the way into Washington DC from Arlington as the large construction project is along the Potomac River right as the Interstate 66 dumps people onto Constitution Avenue. It is impressive architecture, but I don’t know anything about it. It is around the corner from the State Department.
“The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) provides the analysis, training and tools that help to prevent, manage and end violent international conflicts, promote stability and professionalize the field of peacebuilding.
Peacebuilding: A Global Imperative
It is essential that the United States, working with the international community, play an active part in preventing, managing, and resolving conflicts. Fragile states, ethnic and religious strife, extremism, competition for scarce resources and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction all pose significant challenges to peace. The resulting suffering and destabilization of societies make effective forms of managing conflict imperative. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is dedicated to meeting this imperative in new and innovative ways.
USIP's Mission and Goals
The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:
Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
Promote post-conflict stability and development
Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide
The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.”
Whoa! Established by Congress and funded by me. Did I vote for this? How did this happen?
They don’t use the words, but this sounds like nation building to me, institutionalized nation building.
“The architecture of the U.S. Institute of Peace on the mall
Although the United States Institute of Peace headquarters, located on the northwest corner of the National Mall, won't officially be open for business until the spring of 2011, it is coming together rapidly and will take its place as one of the most prominent new public buildings in Washington.
By Philip Kennicott
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Economic downturns work their way slowly through the world of architecture. Coming up on three years since the great recession of the late aughts began, the building industry is still struggling to recover. That means delayed projects and architectural ideas left on the drawing board. The construction of speculative office space, which so defines the look of downtown Washington, has been particularly affected.
But government and public projects continue. Although the United States Institute of Peace headquarters, located on the northwest corner of the Mall, won't officially be open for business until spring, it is coming together rapidly and will take its place as one of the most prominent new public buildings in Washington. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, it is already an instantly recognizable structure -- a 150,000-square-foot, five-story white building with what appear to be winglike structures drooping off its roof.
Safdie also designed the headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a fortresslike behemoth with a distinctive curving arcade, near the corner of New York and Florida avenues in Northeast. With the construction of the Peace Institute -- highly visible to commuters entering and exiting the city on Interstate 66 -- Safdie has put his stamp on two of the most heavily trafficked gateways to the District.
But it is the Peace Institute's impact on the Mall that will determine the success or failure of the building. The northwest corner of the Nation's Front Yard has generally been a fairly sleepy place, with Constitution Gardens, a somewhat run-down afterthought to the Mall, to the south and east. To the west and north of the building site there are, respectively, a spaghetti bowl of highway ramps and the high-security no-go zone of the Naval Observatory grounds.
The Peace Institute will bring traffic to this spot and raise the profile of the government-chartered, nonpartisan think tank, which devotes its energies to conflict resolution throughout the world. It will also be highly visible from the Mall, changing sight lines and casting light from its large, glass-fronted atrium. As Washingtonians begin to make their own peace with this new addition to the landscape, expect much discussion of sheds and ducks.
The terms are borrowed from Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, who in the 1970s articulated a fundamental distinction between the "decorated shed" (a functional building with a sign or symbol defining its purpose) and a "duck," an iconic structure that represents its purpose through its form. The authors were all in favor of the functionality and adaptability of the decorated shed, as opposed to, say, a hot-dog-shaped hot-dog stand that sells hot dogs.
So which will it be? Washingtonians can ponder the new Peace Institute, with its dove-like wings, over the course of the coming year, and ask themselves: Duck or shed? If it quacks . . .”
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