Story

Strengthening Global Diplomatic Ties

Focus Area Embassies and Consulates

Exterior of embassy with man sitting on bench in foreground.

Page has partnered on elevated designs for dozens of U.S. embassy and consular projects around the world

For two decades, Page has been supporting the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO). Since 2001, as the design partner for H.B. Zachary Co. on the New Embassy Campus (NEC) at Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Page has been a design partner on nearly 40 U.S. embassy and consular projects around the world. The firm has been an influential advocate for design/build delivery of these high-risk projects.

In 2005, B.L. Harbert International formally designated Page as its embassy design partner, initially focusing on African continent projects. To date this relationship has resulted in 16 OBO awards in African countries spanning the continent from the Kingdom of Morocco to the Republic of South Africa. The team has successfully delivered work on six continents to date and is prepared to design diplomatic representation for Antarctica as well.

There are a number of 'firsts' associated with Page's work on embassy and consular work, including the first LEED Platinum certification of an OBO building. This distinction was awarded to the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, which was a renovation of a WWI-era facility with a large, modern addition.

Services

  • Architecture
  • Civic / Government
  • Interiors

Being good guests

Although the size, complexity and contract values vary greatly, all of these projects share certain characteristics. All are active U.S. diplomacy and consular affairs facilities, so creating a suitable image and appropriately integrating local cultural references into the design while being sensitive to the local political climate are crucial considerations. In addition to being designed according to extensive physical and technical security standards, each new State Department project also is designed to achieve LEED certification.

Two story dining hall
© BL Harbert International
Interior stairwell
© Dmitri Nenkov Photography

Constraint breeds creativity

Typically, U.S. embassies consist of multiple buildings housing discrete functions. In Rabat, Morocco, design restrictions were imposed to ensure an appropriate fit within the residential neighborhood. Height limitations, line of view, daylighting and other requirements resulted in one of the most interesting New Embassy Campuses (NEC) on which Page has collaborated with the Department of State.

© BL Harbert International

To fit the complex program required, the singular building has one basement level on the low side and two on the high side of the site. An internal sunken patio configuration became the main feature of this project and creates the feeling of an open room to the sky as well as views and natural illumination.

Bringing security home

Page has extensive experience in designing secure facilities for both government and private clients. Our embassy portfolio includes dozens of secure campus designs in some of the most difficult security environments in the world. We specialize in many areas of security, from physical and technical countermeasures to anti-terrorism and force protection. From secure federal and municipal facilities to data processing, command and operations centers, Page has successfully created high-performing environments for employees and visitors that are simultaneously secure and welcoming.

© Dmitri Nenkov Photography

Inherent complexity

Each embassy or consulate project is tied to a fixed cost and delivery schedule with multiple construction document packages being issued for government approval in order to mobilize the design-builder as quickly as possible. This calls for a very high level of project management discipline by the design team reinforced by a strong sense of personal dedication by each design team member. The programmatic complexities of this work is matched by challenges in logistics and local workforce capabilities, all of which require accommodation and care in design documents.

Between worlds

The U.S. New Consulate Campus in Matamoros Tamaulipas, Mexico is located at the border between the two countries. Its design was inspired by the complexity of a life where residents often have one foot in both countries. Open plazas leading to access points for the Consulate were created on the site to integrate with the surrounding urban fabric.

© BL Harbert International
Exterior of embassy
© BL Harbert International

The Consulate building is positioned to appear to oversee the rest of the compound and its outbuildings are integrated into the surrounding, further emphasizing the Consulate building’s dominance in the built composition. The effect is heightened by the large canopy trellis structure which surrounds the building and creates a microclimate that is a pleasant respite in the hot and humid climate of Matamoros.

Sustainable development

Page strives to ensure its projects minimize resource consumption and emissions as well as enhance the communities in which they’re located. Its design-build embassy project team in Abuja, Nigeria, quickly realized the necessary trade and supervisory skills needed for construction were not locally available and brought in skilled foremen to train locals. Thus, nearly 1,000 Nigerian workers gained significant construction expertise from seasoned professionals and became sought-after by other employers. As a result of this complex construction training throughout Africa, the quality of construction and life in these regions should be sustained for years to come.

Credits

  1. Page served as Architect of Record on the U.S. Consular Campus – Matamoros in association with Richä‎rd Kennedy Architects.
  2. Page served as Architect of Record on the U.S. Embassy Campus – Rabat in association with SmithGroup.
  3. Page served as Architect of Record on the U.S. Embassy Compound – Mbabane in association with KCCT Architects.

Around the world

  • 3 mil SQUARE FEET OF U.S. MILITARY BASES AROUND THE WORLD
  • 35+ U.S. DIPLOMATIC CAMPUSES
  • 30 COUNTRIES IN WHICH WE HAVE CERTIFIED / ARE CERTIFYING OBO PROJECTS
  • #2 FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE + AE FIRM AS RANKED BY BUILDING DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION (2019)
  • 1st PLATINUM LEED-CERTIFIED U.S. EMBASSY BUILDING WORLDWIDE

Testimonial

Perception of space in international design

Portrait of white male architect with glasses and turtleneck.

“Designing for diplomacy is a remarkable set of challenges, ranging from cultural sensitivity to the resolution of complex functional requirements — all within the context of robust technical and physical security criteria, and all in consideration of constructability and cost limitations. We thrive on responding to these challenges.”

James M. Wright, FAIA

Page Senior Principal

US Embassy Office Annex / Abuja, Nigeria
Awards

  • AGC (Associated General Contractors) of America Alliant Build America Award, International Category

U.S. Embassy Campus / Matamoros, Mexico
Awards

  • ENR (Engineering News Record) Global Award Best Project, U.S. Consulate General

U.S. Embassy New Office Annex and Major Rehabilitation / Amman, Jordan
Awards

  • ENR (Engineering News Record) Global Award of Merit, Government Building

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