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What Would Sverre Fehn Do?

Only slightly less annoying than the self-satisfied American who, upon visiting Europe, complains that everything is better back in the States, is the grossly insecure American who laments repeatedly that everything is better here in Europe and that the United States is little better than a cultural backwater.

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Naturally, neither assertion is correct insofar as you'd be a fool to choose American dairy products or European immigration policy. But there are those little gems of Euro culture that must not be overlooked, and in an Oslo taxi I spotted one that delighted me.

At a stoplight I looked to my right and glimpsed this innocuous bumper sticker pasted to the side of a concrete pole. It read "What Would Sverre Fehn Do." Fehn, Norway's noted architect who won the Pritzker Prize in 1997 was getting some much due love, and that the sticker was at a cockeyed angle, on some backstreet just feet off the ground suggested that Norwegians might be just a shade more design-savvy than we Yanks. 

That I happened to be taking a taxi to the offices of architects Jarmund Vigsnaes and my cabby, a 70-something Oslovian knew precisely who they were, only confirmed my suspicions. Though the sight of Old Glory waving in the breeze still swells my patriotic heart, some things are better in Europe.

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