Blue Community Conference and Workshop on Water Management Practices

On June 3rd 2015, The National Building Museum, the Embassy of Denmark and the Confederation of Danish Industry organized a workshop and conference on Blue Urbanism: Rethinking Rain in connection with the exhibition HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaption.

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The workshop included a short presentation by five speakers, all working closely with water management in Denmark and the U.S. The speakers were: Jørgen Abilgaard, Climate Project Director City of Copenhagen, public planning and implementation; Karen Pallansch, CEO, Alexandria Renew Enterprises; Eric Fontenot, Senior Engineer, DHI Group; Mette Søs Lassesens, Group Director, Rambøll group in the US and George Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water and Sewer Authority. The presentations gave the participants an opportunity to learn more about specific case stories on how Copenhagen, Washington D.C. and Alexandria have approached and implemented cloudburst management and water management. Following each presentation the participants had the chance to ask questions of the speakers and to discuss some of the challenges that lie ahead for water management. Susan ‘Piedmont-Palladino from the National Building Museum moderated the discussions.

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The Ambassador of Denmark to the U.S. Peter Taksøe-Jensen opened the following conference on Blue Urbanism. Here speakers from Denmark and the U.S. gave their thoughts on how to “rethink rain” and gave the participants an insight into their current projects on the matter. The speakers included: Tommy Wells, Acting Director of D.C. Department of the Environment; Jørgen Abildgaard, Climate Project Director City of Copenhagen; Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Architect and Partner, BIG; Susannah C. Drake, AIA, FASLA, founding principal of Dlandstudio and Scott Davis, Visiting Fellow at the RAND Corporation. Following the presentations, the speakers joined together for a panel discussion.

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The Blue Community Conference and Workshop attracted many participants who all got a more profound understanding of how to deal with water management. After all, the idea is to redefine rain; it’s not waste; it’s a resource – and companies in the U.S. and Denmark are collaborating to make use of this resource.


The climate is changing and the socio-economic consequences following extreme weather events – rising sea levels, changing salinity, acidification, drought, etc. – demand that we re-evaluate our relationship with water. With renewed awareness of the critical importance of fresh water to our health and the health of the planet, and the limits of large-scale engineering solutions, it is thus pertinent that cities around the world start the planning of how to adapt to the changing environment and focus practices for water management. Extreme scenario planning and integrated urban design will be vital when preparing our cities and minimizing the damages following for instance a cloudburst.

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