Diane Al Shihabi & Mikesch Muecke
Tobin Tracey, Director of the Office of Cultural Heritage at the Department of State, invited Diane Al Shihabi, Ph.D. (Interior Design) and Mikesch Muecke, Ph.D. (Architecture) to Washington D.C. on 29 May 2018 to present the lecture titled Diplomatic Relations and Cultural Heritage Protection: Conveying Global History Through Contemporary Technology. The presentation explored Al Shihabi’s and Muecke’s collaborations over the past two years between the State Department’s Office of Cultural Heritage and the College of Design’s DSN S 546 Preservation and Cultural Heritage: International Perspectives and Design Issues, an interdisciplinary studio developed by the professors that incorporates an international study abroad component. In these courses, Al Shihabi and Muecke guided students to research, interpret, and document significant American cultural heritage abroad, including Winfield House in London, the official residence of the Ambassador to the Court of St. Jame’s’, and Villa Petschek in Prague, the official residence of the Ambassador of the United States to the Czech Republic. Of significant interest, the presentation officially introduced winfieldhouse.org, the website created by DSN S 546 faculty and students in 2017 and approved by the State Department during the same year. It also incorporated virtual reality (VR) technology through two Oculus Rift headsets, funded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority for the College of Design’s Preservation and Cultural Heritage Program. This allowed participants to experience point clouds and meshes of both residences, and a 3D digital model of Winfield House, all in VR. Approximately thirty State Department personnel attended the event, including Assistant Secretary for Administration and Acting Director of Overseas Buildings Operations Nicole Nason, Former Ambassador and Principal Deputy Director of Overseas Buildings Operations William Moser, Director of the Office of Cultural Heritage Tobin Tracey and members of his staff, security officials, and others. The presentation generated enthusiasm and a multi-faceted discussion of potential future collaborations in different venues.
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