Monday, January 31, 2011

New Embassy Compound in Addis Ababa

That makes 77 new embassies and consulates constructed since 1999. If Congress keeps the money coming, each year another six, eight, or ten decrepit and insecure old diplomatic facilities will be replaced with shiny new Fortress Embassies.

United States Dedicates New Embassy Compound in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

In an important symbol of America’s commitment to an enduring friendship with Ethiopia, as well as our bilateral relationships with the Government of Ethiopia and the African Union, Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg dedicated the new U.S. Embassy facility in Ethiopia today. Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and African Union Deputy Chairman Erastus Mwencha attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, as well as Deputy Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, Lydia Muniz; U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald E. Booth; and U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, Michael E. Battle.

The dedication of the New Embassy Compound (NEC) in Addis Ababa marks the 77th diplomatic facility to be completed by the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) since the 1999 enactment of the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act. In the last twelve years, OBO has moved more than 22,000 people into safer facilities. OBO has built 30 new facilities in Africa and has an additional seven projects in design or construction on the continent.

The New Embassy Compound, located just below Entoto Mountain and overlooking Addis Ababa, was designed to maintain much of the plant and wildlife that has existed on the site for many years. The building design integrates green building techniques and was one of the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) registered facilities in Ethiopia.

The multi-building complex provides more than approximately 1,000 U.S. embassy direct hire and locally employed staff, including the U.S. Mission to the African Union, with more than 19,000 square meters of working space.

B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama, under a design/build contract, constructed the NEC; the architectural firm of Page Southerland Page of Arlington, Virginia designed the facility. The total approximate cost of the project, which generated jobs in both the United States and Ethiopia, is $157 million. The new facility was completed in August 2010, with, at times, more than 1,200 workers involved in the construction.

The press release does not answer the big question - does the new embassy have any more cafeteria space now than it did last summer when Diplopundit pointed out that the mission's 568 employees will have to take turns to get into the 80-seat cafeteria? It makes we wonder where they held the punch-and-cookies reception after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

I know Ethiopia is no stranger to starvation but, really, can't we do better in our new $100+ million new embassy compounds?


The Snake's Mommy said...

Just once, it would be nice to hear a bunch of dignitaries open an embassy with a declaration including something about "In an important symbol of America’s commitment to keeping an eye on your country's widespread corruption and human rights atrocities..." Does anybody actually believe this ongoing "friendship" stuff? Especially while standing in front of a fortified building? I have no future in diplomacy, obviously.

TSB said...

That stuff isn't intended for communicating meaning, it's just chin-music to set the mood for ceremonial occasions. If anybody takes it seriously, it's as performance art. Kabuki theater.

The best actual communication I ever saw on a ceremonial occasion was when former Virginia Governor George Allen hosted the Prime Minister of Red China and presented him with a silver bowl bearing the Virginia State Seal:

Virtus, dressed as an Amazon, resting on a spear in her right hand and holding in her left hand a sheathed sword, her left foot on the form of Tyranny represented by the prostrate body of a man, his fallen crown nearby, a broken chain in his left hand, and a scourge in his right hand. The motto on the seal, "Sic Semper Tyrannis."

That was both completely proper and completely unmistakable.