Then Finland’s Jukka Valtasaari, having learned from Wachtmeister’s mistakes, brought the neighbors into the discussion early and won their crucial votes. Within steps of where Sweden failed, Finland would have its showcase, a green glass house that would become Washington’s standard for public diplomacy. There sat Finland as the symbol of Scandinavian engineering ingenuity and legendary style on Embassy Row and Sweden’s chancery was as much as invisible. The pressure was on.
During the mid 1990’s, Swedish Ambassador Henrik Liljegren and his Turkish wife Nil dreamed up this waterfront idea with Georgetown friends Alan Novak and his Swedish wife Kate. The Foreign Ministry and the National Property Board were curious about the ambitious plan but finally said “Nay,” unconvinced that this skinny piece of riverfront land could be sufficiently protected from flooding. And even if it could, to support this ambitious project, Sweden might have to sell its charming Nebraska Avenue hacienda which David Lawrence, founder of U.S. News & World Report, built in 1923.