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Us Government: The Latest Architecture and News

The Architecture of Washington DC's Watergate Complex: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address

09:30 - 1 March, 2018
The Architecture of Washington DC's Watergate Complex: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address, Courtesy of Joe Rodota
Courtesy of Joe Rodota

Joseph Rodota's new book The Watergate: Inside America’s Most Infamous Address (William Morrow) presents the story of a building complex whose name is recognized around the world as the address at the center of the United States' greatest political scandal—but one that has so many more tales to tell. In this excerpt from the book, the author looks into the design and construction of a building The Washington Post once called a "glittering Potomac Titanic," a description granted because the Watergate was ahead of its time, filled with boldface names—and ultimately doomed.

On the evening of October 25, 1965, the grand opening of the Watergate was held for fifteen-hundred guests. Luigi Moretti, the architect, flew in from Rome. Other executives came from Mexico, where the Watergate developer, the Italian real estate giant known as Societa Generale Immobiliare, was planning a community outside Mexico City, and from Montreal, where the company was erecting the tallest concrete-and-steel skyscraper in Canada, designed by Moretti and another Italian, Pier Luigi Nervi.

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...