Jens Vange


immigration, culture, airport amenities, restroom


Over the past eight years, I’ve had the rare opportunity to explore in excruciating detail one of the most mundane spaces that most of us have experienced: airport restrooms. My immigration experience influenced the outcome of this exploration. My father, erik Vange, immigrated to the US from Denmark during World War II and never moved back. My mom, Lissi, and my sister, Katrine, came over about ten years later. They settled in the Chicago area, and after a few years my parents decided to adopt a child from Denmark. Fortunately, that turned out to be me. I immigrated to the US when I was ten months old. As I grew into an adult, my dad’s carpentry and my mom’s artistry led me to a career as an architect. I worked at several smaller firms, in part because I was warned when I graduated college not to work at a large company or I would end up drawing stairs and restrooms all the time. Twelve years into my career, I was ready for a change and decided a large firm would be interesting to try. I joined Alliiance, which is in Minneapolis. That was twenty-one years ago and it’s still interesting.