Page 20 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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20
DECEMBER 2012
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
BEYOND THE
FORTRESS
EMBASSY
State’s new “Design Excellence”
initiative is intended to improve
America’s presence abroad by
embracing all elements of
embassy construction.
BY JANE C . LOE F F L ER
FOCUS
EMBASSY SECURITY
D
uring the past decade, as the State
Department built look-alike embassy
compounds that were compared to
citadels and high-security prisons,
diplomats complained of isolation
and impaired diplomacy; critics in
and out of government objected to
the negative image being conveyed by
placeless and undistinguished architecture; and host govern-
ments protested the dismissive attitude that emanated from such
facilities. All the while, the one-size-fts-all Standard Embassy
Design was touted as the only viable option. Few critics expected
change, let alone a full-scale course correction.
But in a move that has surprised and pleased critics, includ-
ing this author, the department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings
Operations has recently announced a sweeping “Design Excel-
Davis Brody Bond Architects and Planners