Smithsonian Student Travel | New York & Denmark
Immerse yourself in cutting-edge design and sustainability on this high school summer program as you travel from New York to Denmark, a country that boasts an outsized impact on the world of design. Begin in New York with a visit to the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the nation’s only museum dedicated to historic and contemporary design. Expand your scope to urban design and innovations in the use of city spaces, then travel to Denmark with a day trip to Sweden, meet with architects, engineers, artists, and makers, and experience firsthand how the ideals of sustainability can be incorporated into all areas of design, from urban planning to user-centric technologies.
Explore how New York City is fusing equity with design in urban spaces
Participate in a day-long makerspace design challenge with Danish peers
Travel to Sweden across the Øresund Bridge, a marvel of engineering
Talk with LEGO Builders about innovation and the future of the LEGO brick
This itinerary represents our plan for the program. However, we may implement changes if we identify opportunities to improve the experience, to take advantage of unexpected events, or to accommodate local schedule changes.
Arrival • Travel Day • Meet your student travel group and your trip leaders in New York City as the official start to your program.
New York City • 3 days • Begin your program with a deep dive into design in New York, a world-renowned hub of creative endeavor. Explore the ways in which New York’s creativity spills out from its artistic center into every fiber of design as you head off-Broadway for an improvisational theater class, then explore how art and theater blend temporary creations with sustainability and permanent change. Immerse yourself in the collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, from art to fashion to architecture and establish a foundational understanding of the principles of design and evolution of design trends through the ages. With this context, head out to experience the city through the lens of design—visit icons of architecture, explore how green space is embedded into the design of the city, and meet with an urban designer to discuss the future of land use and city designs that seek to incorporate concepts of community, connection, and sustainability. See how these ideas have been manifested with a walk along the High Line, an abandoned section of elevated railway that was converted into a public park and greenway, and then explore some of Brooklyn’s most creative rooftop farms.
Copenhagen & Malmö • 4 days • Next, travel to Denmark to experience firsthand how the concepts of design and sustainability are inextricably linked in Danish culture. Nowhere is this link more readily apparent than in the capital city of Copenhagen, which was named UNESCO’s World Capital of Architecture for 2023 and aims to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Often considered the world’s most bike-friendly metropolis, with more bikes per capita than anywhere else in the world, cyclists enjoy bike lanes designed with special signal lights, trash bins, and smart screen billboards with helpful traffic information. Learn how Danes have focused their sustainable ideals on everything from art to architecture to their food systems. Explore the famous CopenHill, a clean energy plant topped with a ski slope, playgrounds, and hiking trails as you imagine ways that your community could reclaim unused space to promote health and sustainability. Take a day trip to Malmö, Sweden, through two feats of engineering—an underwater tunnel and overwater bridge—linking Sweden with Denmark. Explore the architecture of the city center, built on cobblestone squares, as well as the 16th century fortress originally built by a Danish King. Compare and contrast the industrial origins of Malmo with the high-tech architecture of the Turning Torso skyscraper, the 19th century open-air baths jutting into the sea, or the last surviving Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. Take an afternoon walk through the newly redeveloped Hyllie district, which aims to be climate-smart and resilient through innovative designs and renewable energies.
Odense & Aarhus • 3 days • Venture west and stop in Odense, home to the writer Hans Christian Andersen, and stretch your legs at Idrætspark, a sports campus awarded a gold medal by the International Olympic Committee for its playful, paradigm-shifting design work. Meet with the ambitious architect who built the site and is reimagining recreation and playground design throughout the industry. Continue on to Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, crowned Europe’s Culture Capital in 2017. Discuss the intersection of sustainable design and information technology with an eye-opening look at Dokk1, known as “the library of the future.” This otherworldly building is located right on the waterfront and uses seawater as a coolant and as a means to recirculate air in the ultra-efficient parking garage. Spend an afternoon at the Godsbanen Cultural Center with a local graphic artist, checking out permaculture cafes, skateboard parks, and art studios which thrive in an urban village of yurts and cargo containers—and which will eventually be the new site of the Aarhus Architecture School.
Billund • 3 days • Travel south to the 1,000-year-old waterside city of Vejle, where high school students can major in marine biology next door to the award-winning “wave building” apartments. Explore the former textile factory, Spinderihallerne, now converted into a giant mixed-use space for theater, events, costume design, and a high-tech community makerspace. Then head inland to the small town of Billund, capping off your time in Denmark with a stay near the home of LEGO. Learn about LEGO’s efforts to develop plant-based sustainable plastics, and the important role of play in human development and creative achievement. Celebrate your journey with an adventurous day at the original LEGOLAND amusement park.
Return • Travel Day • Fly from Denmark to New York City with your group and a trip leader, then continue on to your final destination.
Smithsonian Student Travel Experts
The expert(s) highlighted below are examples of professionals that will join the group at various points throughout the itinerary to add their expertise and insight to the program theme.
Geeta Mehta, Professor
Geeta Mehta is an adjunct professor of architecture and urban design at Columbia University. She received her education from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi and Columbia University, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo. Her experience of working in India, China, Korea, and several countries in Europe, Africa, and South America enables her to bring a global perspective to her teaching. She has spoken on social capital, sustainable and equitable urbanism, and community-based change at forums around the world and she served as a panelist at WomenDeliver in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Women’s Summit in Sharjah organized by UN Women. In 2018, she was appointed to serve on the Waterfront Management advisory board by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Geeta also co-founded URBZ: User Generated Cities, a research collective that focuses on participatory urban planning and design systems, which was named one of the 100 most influential names in architecture in the world by the magazine Il Giornale dell’Architettura.
Geeta will be joining the June 22 departure of the New York & Denmark program.
Watch a Previously Recorded Webinar
Edward Becker, Architect & Professor
Edward Becker is an Associate Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech, consistently ranked
as one of the top undergraduate architecture programs in the United States. He holds a Master
of Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal
Poly – San Luis Obispo. As a member of the Finnish Association of Architects, he is the founder
of Helsinki-based Vor, a sustainability-focused design and consulting practice. His award-winning, bio-focused design and research work is positioned at the intersection of architecture, landscape urbanism, and public art. Edward has lived and practiced in Copenhagen and Helsinki, among other global locations, and through those experiences has a deeply rooted professional ethic for, and expertise in, sustainable design, livable cities, and design for well-being. Winner of national and international design awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, Architizer, Architects Newspaper, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and others, his collaborative work has been published internationally by Actar, ARK, Archinect, ARQ-XP, Phaidon, Routledge, Wood Design Magazine, and World Landscape Architecture, among others, including being featured in AN’s “Best of the Best” design awards publication and Phaidon’s “Architizer: World’s Best Architecture 2020.”
Edward will be joining the July 20 departure of the New York & Denmark program.
What to Expect
Accommodations • Accommodations range from hip, centrally located hostels to small comfortable hotels and guesthouses, all with a different eye for design. Leaders stay with students throughout the program.
Climate • Summer temperatures in New York City are warm and humid, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s °F. Danish summers are mild and pleasant with highs in the 60s and 70s °F, and occasionally brisker temperatures.
Meals • We enjoy meals at small, local restaurants and cafes with the occasional group picnic in the park.
Cuisine • New York City’s food scene is often touted as some of the best in the world. Cuisine is varied and reflects the city’s melting pot of cultures. Danish cuisine ranges from open-faced sandwiches and gourmet street hot dogs to hearty meals of meat and potatoes.
Language • Danish is the official language of Denmark. However, the vast majority of Danes speak English as a second language.
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