Monday, June 27, 2016

Mbabane Gets A Fortress Embassy

FYI, cars will not be allowed to park up against the real NEC Mbabane

My good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Office Buildings (OBO) have cut the ribbon on yet another Fortress Embassy, this one in Mbabane, Swaziland.

From the press release:
The new $141 million campus is situated on an 8.9-acre site in the Ezulwini Valley. Sustainable features to conserve resources and reduce operating costs include a photovoltaic system, light-emitting diode (LED) site lighting, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, on-site wastewater treatment, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

-- snip --

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations has completed 131 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 53 projects in design or under construction.

See the press kit for more project details.

Two things stand out about this short-and-sweet press release. First, the price for this new embassy complex is not especially high (as U.S. embassy construction projects go). Second, there is absolutely no happy-talk about Design Excellence, or Openness, or Innovation, or any quotes from an architect with round eyeglasses and a bow tie.

No, this one was more of a Standard Embassy Design job. Yet another serviceable and sensibly priced office complex churned out for OBO by B.L. Harbert International Group. Browsing the thumbnail photos of their leadership team, I find no one who looks anything like a modern Le Corbusier. I am comfortable with that.

One last thought: so OBO has now completed 131 new U.S. diplomatic facilities under the Capital Security Construction Program? That's roughly half the total number of our embassies and consulates. How much longer will Congress keep the money flowing?

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