The new American Embassy in London which will open later this year is a giant glass cube located on a former industrial site south of the River Thames. With a pond and garden ring, the embassy is essentially modernist with a cool façade. Some criticized the Government of improper construction processes during the construction of the magnificent appearance glass façade, which some argue promote aesthetics over safety. However, embassies do not only mean to protect foreign service personnel from harm. They are also representatives of United States in the world and for many, this is the first issue of interaction with the American Government and it is a visual key for American values.

Improving design standards

The large number of embassies being built now is the result of a government project which was launched to improve design standards. According to the plan — originally titled design excellence, the Department of State has hired some of the most famous architects in the country. London Embassy happened before the program but set a precedent for it. In April of this year, the California architect Thom Mayne, and his bold forms can be seen at the new US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

Novel designs

Todd Williams and Billy Tsien, minimalist gallery husband and wife architect, designers for such as the Gallery of Phoenix and Basque Foundation, developed a new Embassy in Mexico City.

The new United States Embassy in Mexico City is one of the first outstanding projects of the Council of State in diplomatic missions and the design aspect is inspired by the native architectural traditions of Mexico. The new Embassy in Mozambique is on a 10-acre site in the capital Maputo, trying to balance security with transparent elements like screens outside.

Jeanne Gang, popular for building the skyscraper with its wavy one-sided water tower in Chicago, has just been chosen to design a new Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil. Although these architects won the main prize of their career, they had no experience in diplomatic institutions. The Government now wants the Embassies to represent the best buildings in the United States while respecting the culture of the host country.

Officials are trying to put them in more central cities and to achieve environmental objectives without compromising functionality and security.

After the end of the cold war, the new cube in London introduced the first wave of architectural conscious embassies. It remains to be seen how successful they will be in their objective: preservation of the environment, safety, and modernist in design.