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Embassy

Morphosis Architects' U.S. Embassy in Beirut Gets 2023 Completion Date

14:20 - 24 January, 2017
Morphosis Architects' U.S. Embassy in Beirut Gets 2023 Completion Date, View of Beirut overlooking Bernard Khoury Architects'  B 018 . Image © Bernard Khoury Architects
View of Beirut overlooking Bernard Khoury Architects' B 018 . Image © Bernard Khoury Architects

The U.S. State Department is moving forward with plans for a new Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. After awarding the commission to California architects Morphosis in 2013, the government has now granted the construction contract to to B.L. Harbert of Birmingham, Alabama, willing allow the project to get underway.

Eero Saarinen-Designed US Embassy in Oslo to Be Preserved After Sale by Government

12:00 - 26 December, 2016
Eero Saarinen-Designed US Embassy in Oslo to Be Preserved After Sale by Government, US Embassy in Oslo. Designed by Eero Saarinen. Image © Flickr user A.Curell. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
US Embassy in Oslo. Designed by Eero Saarinen. Image © Flickr user A.Curell. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Eero Saarinen-designed US Embassy in Oslo is set to be placed under historic preservation orders following the building’s sale by the US government.

The US embassy to Norway since 1959, the building will change hands once staff are moved into the new US embassy building at Huseby, which is expected to complete in early 2017.

Studio Gang to Design New US Embassy in Brasília

14:45 - 8 March, 2016
Studio Gang to Design New US Embassy in Brasília, National Congress; Brasília / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Flickr User may_inthesky
National Congress; Brasília / Oscar Niemeyer. Image © Flickr User may_inthesky

Studio Gang Architects has been chosen by the Department of State to design the new US Embassy compound in Brasília Brazil's federal capital. Selected from a shortlist of six, the Jeanne Gang-led practice won the commission with their "strong and cohesive team approach with more than 20 years of collaborative experience executing projects with complex constraints at challenging sites," says the report. 

WEISS/MANFREDI to Re-envision India's US Embassy

16:00 - 5 August, 2015
WEISS/MANFREDI to Re-envision India's US Embassy, © WEISS/MANFREDI
© WEISS/MANFREDI

The United States Department of State has commissioned WEISS/MANFREDI to re-envision the Edward Durell Stone-designed embassy compound in New Delhi, India. Fifty years after its opening, the masterplan hopes to "restore the early modernist Chancery Building and recast the Embassy Compound as a multi-functional 28-acre campus setting." The masterplan's first phase will see the addition of a new office annex and restore the complex's landscape. 

Open Call: US Searches for Architect to Design New Embassy Compound in Brasília

14:10 - 4 June, 2015
Open Call: US Searches for Architect to Design New Embassy Compound in Brasília , Brasilia under construction (click for more images). Image © Marcel Gautherot
Brasilia under construction (click for more images). Image © Marcel Gautherot

The United States Department of State (DOS) has released a request for information (RFI) in search of architects interested in designing a New Embassy Compound (NEC) in Brasília, the federal capital of Brazil. The (up to) $350 million, design-bid-build project will be located on a 4.86 hectares (12 acres) site near the seat of the Brazilian Government within the city's planned "Diplomatic Sector." All proposals must take in considering the site's conditions, the city planning context and the architectural significance of Brasilia as a 1956 urban planned city and now UNESCO World Heritage Site. More details after the break. 

Does Architectural "Excellence" Put Embassies at Risk?

00:00 - 14 July, 2014
Does Architectural "Excellence" Put Embassies at Risk?, The new US Embassy in London – designed by Philadelphia’s KieranTimberlake. Image via US Department of State.
The new US Embassy in London – designed by Philadelphia’s KieranTimberlake. Image via US Department of State.

“Embassies and consulates serve as the front door for US diplomacy. The safety and security they provide to our personnel are the first priority, but they must also reflect our national values of openness and ingenuity. Embassies and consulates must exemplify the best of American architecture, environmental stewardship, and innovation.” - Secretary of State John Kerry on the US Department of State’s Design Excellence program, November 2013

As the meeting point for diplomacy, embassies serve as the face of America abroad. Embassy location and architectural design have the potential to promote inclusion and openness, but when tucked behind tall fences and bunker-style architecture they can convey exclusion and hostility.

While protecting diplomatic personnel is critical, conveying core American values such as transparency, openness and equality is also key. But how do you balance security and openness? Does a focus on design put safety at risk?

These questions are currently at the center of debate, as the State Department’s embassy Design Excellence program is facing criticism for being too costly and jeopardizing security.

Shortlist Announced for U.S. Embassy in Beirut

01:00 - 18 June, 2013
Shortlist Announced for U.S. Embassy in Beirut

The Department of State’s Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has shortlisted six design teams for the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The project is part of OBO’s Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities initiative in which seeks to provide safe and functional facilities that represent the best in American architecture. 

Four Firms Shortlisted to Refurbish US Embassy in Athens

01:00 - 16 May, 2013
Four Firms Shortlisted to Refurbish US Embassy in Athens, Embassy of the United States in Athens, Greece; Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
Embassy of the United States in Athens, Greece; Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has shortlisted four design firms for the major rehabilitation of the Athens Chancery project. Protected as an architectural landmark, the mid-century modern building was originally designed by the famed Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius with the consulting architect Pericles A. Sakellarios. 

Five Firms Shortlisted to Rehabilitate U.S. Embassies Worldwide

01:00 - 22 March, 2013
US Embassy in Beijing, by SOM. SOM is one of the 11 firms shortlisted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings (BOB). Photo © SOM
US Embassy in Beijing, by SOM. SOM is one of the 11 firms shortlisted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings (BOB). Photo © SOM

The Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has selected five design teams in a worldwide Architecture/Engineering Design Services solicitation to rehabilitate/renovate facilities that "represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, maintainability, art, culture, and construction execution."

Design Excellence of US Embassies: Openness and Security

00:00 - 4 March, 2013
Design Excellence of US Embassies: Openness and Security, US Embassy in London / KieranTimberlake Architects
US Embassy in London / KieranTimberlake Architects

"The works of our artists, architects, and preservationists provide us with another language of diplomacy. A transcendent language that allows us to convey values that are at once uniquely American yet speak to all of humanity.  Increasingly in this world, art and architecture help us maintain our sense of openness and liberation." -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 12, 2010 

An embassy is much more than a building or a work of architecture; it functions as a symbolic representation of countries' relationships to one another.  It represents the universal language of diplomacy - "communicating values and ideals, extending well beyond any moment in time".  An embassy has the difficult task of representing two diametrically opposed concepts: security and openness.  The former typically overpowers the latter in importance, which is most probably why when we think of foreign embassies, it conjures up images of stately monolithic buildings surrounded by tall fences and menacing guards or "bunkers, bland cubes, lifeless compounds", according to Tanya Ballard Brown of NPR's All Things Considered.  

More after the break...