The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has got a really hot hand right now, what with yesterday's groundbreaking for a new London embassy, plus the announcement of four new construction contracts for embassy renovations, and that coming on top of the four new embassy construction contracts it announced last week.
From the London press release:
In an important symbol of our enduring friendship with the United Kingdom, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Matthew W. Barzun and Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) Lydia Muniz broke ground on the new U.S. Embassy in London today.
The new Embassy, designed by KieranTimberlake of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will be situated on a 4.9-acre site in the Nine Elms Opportunity Planning Area and will include a chancery, a consular section, support spaces, a U.S. Marine residence, access pavilions, and parking.
Its design incorporates sustainable features at the leading edge of practice, including aspirations for carbon neutrality, a self-sufficient water system, as well as goals for minimum certification at Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Excellent.
-- snip --
OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and support our staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
For its reported cost of one billion dollars, I hope that new embassy comes with an unprecedented degree of 'safe, secure, and functional' in addition to all of that greeny carbon neutrality stuff.
The four renovation projects that OBO announced this week were for Vilnius, Lithuania (see the press release here), Wellington, New Zealand (here), Freetown, Sierra Leone (here), and Budapest, Hungary (here).
|U.S. Legation and Embassy since 1935 (photo: diplomacy.state.gov)|
Budapest is a personal favorite city - and embassy - of mine. I'll be sorry if the day ever comes when we replace that elegant old building, drenched in the history of modern Europe from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the end of the Cold War, with a 'safe, secure, and functional' nonentity of a Fortress Embassy.