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Washington welcomes the House of Sweden

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13:55 CEST+02:00
Today sees the climax of a three-day official bash to celebrate the inauguration of the House of Sweden, which houses the new Swedish embassy, in Washington DC. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia are on location in Georgetown to provide the pomp, while glam poppers The Ark will camp it up on the shores of the Potomac River.

The building means that Sweden takes the step from virtual anonymity in the American capital to prime real estate visibility.

“In fact, I think it may be the most famous, well-located embassy of any country in Washington. It's very dramatic. Right on the Potomac River, near the Kennedy Centre and the famous Watergate Hotel,” the American Ambassador to Sweden, Michael M. Wood, who is in Washington for the opening, told The Local.

“It's a part of the river that's been completely redeveloped lately. Fancy buildings, expensive apartments, good restaurants, and the House of Sweden is right there – very dramatic."

Architects Gert Wingårdh and Tomas Hansen won the right to design the building in a competition arranged by the Swedish National Property Board. The cool, angular structure, constructed using blond wood, glass and stone, stands five storeys tall as a monument to Sweden's famed transparency.

The total cost of the building is estimated to be 480 million kronor.

While the embassy, whose staff moved into the house in August, is a solid anchor tenant, the intention is for representatives of Swedish arts, industry and commerce to fill the other nooks and crannies of the vast building.

An event centre looking out onto Rock Creek Park and flooded with natural light is ready to play host to seminars and exhibitions. And should things get start to get stuffy participants can always move outdoors onto the rooftop terrace.

The building also houses 19 corporate apartments, designed for good living, working and entertaining. In addition to balconies offering views onto the river and the park, the apartments also showcase cutting edge Swedish design.

“I think one third of the space is now rented. The property board is the owner and I know they have had several interested parties making enquiries over the weekend,” Anders J Ericson, Press Counselor for the embassy told the Local.

House of Sweden's official inauguration will take place later today.

“First there will be a royal symposium on the brain organised by the embassy and Karolinska Institutet and attended by the king and queen.

“Then the king and queen will go to lunch at the White House with the President and Mrs Bush.

“At 7:30pm local time there will be the official inauguration, followed by a gala dinner,” said Ericson.

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