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New AIA report on embassies: integrate security and design excellence

July 09, 2009 |

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) released a new report to help the State Department design and build 21st Century embassies.

The report, “Design for Diplomacy: New Embassies for the 21st Century,” calls on the State Department to integrate embassy security with design excellence. It includes 59 recommendations made by the AIA’s 21st Century Embassy Task Force, an unprecedented collaboration of more than 50 leading architects, engineers, landscape architects, ambassadors, diplomats, Foreign Service personnel, public art experts and art and architectural historians.


The report recommends evaluating the current embassy design program, which was implemented after the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa to improve security and expedite the construction of new facilities with a standard design that could be replicated anywhere in the world. The report calls on the State Department to “develop an approach that would enable architects and engineers to design embassies that reflect the unique needs of a site at a foreign post.” The report also calls for an analysis to review the effectiveness of the standard embassy design program in meeting current and future goals for building performance and cost-effectiveness.


Other recommendations include:

• Developing a program that integrates security and design excellence for new embassies

• Integrating sustainable best practices in all new facilities

• Establishing a multi-disciplinary peer review process that includes diplomatic and Foreign Service stakeholders, design and construction professionals, art advisors, senior Diplomatic Security officers and those familiar with the foreign post as peers

• Widening the pool of firms to include women and minority owned businesses, and emerging firms

• Allocating resources for public art in all embassies


Barbara A. Nadel, FAIA, chair of the 21st Century Embassy Task Force, and principal of Barbara Nadel Architect noted, “Protecting the dedicated men and women who conduct American diplomacy around the world is of primary concern to the State Department in a changing geopolitical landscape. Design excellence demonstrates that the U.S. can provide diplomatic facilities that are secure, sustainable, and symbolize America’s vitality, enduring strength, decency, and innovation. These essential qualities contribute to the conduct of American diplomacy, encourage international commerce, and enhance cultural exchange. This is an important challenge and opportunity for America’s architects and engineers.”


About The American Institute of Architects

For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. 

Contact: Scott Frank


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