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> Pics: New American Embassy In Barbados, Press release

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post Jan 28 2009, 11:02 AM
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New U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados Designed By Sorg Architects

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BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - The new U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown opened earlier this year as part of a larger New Embassy Compound designed by Sorg Architects for the U.S. Department of State. The new Embassy consists of a renovated existing five-story office building along with a new addition of similar scale, and is located on a dramatic site in Wildey, St. Michael, outside Barbados’ capital city, Bridgetown. In response to the challenging site and Department of State security requirements the design concept combines prevalent vernacular architectural styles with local materials and modernist forms to create architecture that both reflects important elements of its local context and serves as a symbol of U.S. democratic ideals. The new Embassy’s hinged form connects public and private functions with a smaller centerpiece and creates a welcoming and graceful American diplomatic presence on the island.

Currently an office and industrial area, the 3.2 acre site was originally a coral limestone quarry which is still characterized by steep, open ledge outcroppings and variations in grade. Sorg Architect’s Principal, Suman Sorg, drew inspiration for the new Embassy’s design from characteristic small island dwellings known as chattel houses. These diminutive homes with peaked, saw-toothed roofs, traditionally inhabited by slaves, were small enough to move from place to place as their residents relocated. In collaboration with the U.S. department of State it was determined that the new embassy building should not take cues from the older civic buildings of Barbados, as they tend to reflect the colonial past and represent a non-democratic era in the history of the island. Instead, locally inspired elements such as the rich use of bright colors, deep shading devices to protect against the tropical sun, and the inclusion of local materials such as plaster work with contrasting smooth and textured finishes, naturally finished local wood and honed coral were incorporated and highlighted to reference the diplomatic mission of the U.S. Embassy.

As the central office building of the U.S. Mission in Barbados, the new Embassy is required to house a wide array of functions under one roof, which can easily lead to buildings that resemble bulky, imposing office blocks. To ensure that the new addition did not add excessive mass to the large pre-existing building, the two volumes were turned perpendicular to one another and share the same roof line, thereby incorporating the entire structure into the horizontal scale of a campus whole, relating it to the smaller buildings on the compound and visually reducing its mass. Similarly, the light and airy main entrance of the new Embassy unites the existing and new buildings with a sheltered outdoor lobby that invites the outside in, while maintaining the necessary separation between the two building volumes and their respective public and restricted functions.

Because of the specialized materials required for use in new embassies and to meet security concerns, embassy walls tend to be thick with small punched window openings. In contrast, the design for the new Bridgetown Embassy has deeply set exterior windows, shaded and highlighted by a modern, stainless steel interpretation of the island's vernacular awnings. The new addition takes advantage of the unique site’s quarry walls, which reflect light inside the building for adequate daylighting. Although built before the State Department instituted LEED sustainable design standards for construction, the new Embassy building meets LEED Silver standards with several “green building” elements incorporated into the design including adaptive reuse of the existing building, site orientation, solar control measures, the use of local building materials, energy efficient building systems, the incorporation of and native plant species in landscape design and interior finishes with high recycled content.

For more information on the work of Sorg Architects please visit www.sorgandassociates.com.

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Description New Embassy Office Building (NOB) and Multi-building New Embassy Compound (NEC)

Client U.S. Department of State, Overseas Building Operations

Location Bridgetown, Barbados

Architects
Design Architect Suman Sorg
Project Architects Robert Widger, Brad Witko, Mario Perez

Engineers Grotheer & CO, Elhert Bryan, Inc., Caribbean Consultants, Inc.

Landscape Architect Oehme, van Sweden & Associates

Interior Designer Sorg Architects

General Contractor Caribbean Consultants, Inc.

Total Square Footage 86,000 s.f.

Total Construction Cost $40 Million


Materials Local materials include naturally finished local wood, honed coral, and local plant species for landscaping.


Sustainable Design Although not required, the design for the new Embassy meets LEED Silver design standards including adaptive reuse of existing building, solar control measures, use of local materials, site orientation, energy efficient building systems, including exclusive use of energy-star rated equipment for HVAC, energy efficient interior and exterior lighting, and interior finishes with high recycled content, including cork flooring, interior office finishes, carpet and furnishings.

Client U.S. Department of State, Overseas Building Operations

Location Bridgetown, Barbados

Program New Embassy Office Building (NOB)
and New Multi-building Embassy Compound (NEC)

Architects: Sorg Architects
Design Architect Suman Sorg
Project Architects Robert Widger, Brad Witko, Mario Perez

Landscape Architect Oehme, van Sweden & Associates

Interior Designer Sorg Architects

Engineers Grotheer & CO, Elhert Bryan, Inc., Caribbean Consultants, Inc.

Size 86,000 s.f.

Construction Cost $40 Million

Status Completed

The design for the new U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados combines prevalent vernacular architectural styles, local materials and modernist forms in an architecture that symbolizes U.S. democratic ideals while meeting challenging building and site requirements set by the U.S. Department of State. Located on a 3.2 acre site, the new Embassy includes the renovation of an existing five-story office building as well as a new addition of similar scale. Stringent physical and technical security requirements and a highly specialized program were configured around challenging site constraints and within adaptive reuse parameters for the existing building. The resulting hinged design connects public and private functions with a smaller centerpiece, to form a welcoming and graceful American diplomatic presence.

The design concept for the new Embassy was inspired by one of the characteristic small island dwellings locally known as chattel houses. These diminutive structures with saw-toothed roofs, traditionally inhabited by slaves, were small enough to relocate as the residents moved from place to place. The older civic buildings of Barbados on the other hand, typically reflect the island's colonial history. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, it was determined not to emulate the colonial model, which represented a non-democratic era in the history of the island. Instead, locally inspired elements such as the rich use of bright colors to differentiate scale and volume, deep shading devices to protect against the tropical sun, and the inclusion of local materials such as plaster work with contrasting smooth and textured finishes, naturally finished local wood and honed coral, were incorporated to subtly reference the diplomatic mission of the U.S. Embassy.

The new Embassy compound was inserted into the dramatic site located in Wildey, outside the center of Bridgetown. Originally a coral limestone quarry, the site remains characterized by steep, open ledge outcroppings and variations in grade. The pre-existing five story building is exposed to the south where the new addition is located, while only three floors of the original building rise above grade to the north. To ensure that the new addition did not overshadow the pre-existing building, the two volumes were turned perpendicular to one another and designed to share the same roof line, incorporating the entire structure into the horizontal scale of a campus whole. The main entrance joins the existing and new buildings with a sheltered outdoor lobby that invites the outside in, while separation between the two building volumes reflects the programmatic division between public and restricted functions.

Security concerns, tendency towards breakage during shipping and the unwieldy size of blast-proof glass, typically results in small punched window openings in most U.S. Embassies. The design addressed these restrictions with deeply set exterior windows, shaded and enhanced by a modern, stainless steel interpretation of the island's vernacular awnings. The new addition takes advantage of the site’s unique quarry walls, which reflect adequate daylight into the building’s interior. Although the new Embassy was built before the State Department instituted LEED design standards for construction, the building meets LEED Silver standards and incorporates several “green building” elements into the design, including adaptive reuse of the existing building, site orientation, solar control measures, the use of local building materials, energy efficient building systems and lighting, the incorporation of native plant species in the landscape design and interior finishes with high recycled content.

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brijonmang
post Feb 5 2009, 10:17 PM
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Pretty cool story to go along with a cool looking building. It reminds me of the Solana campus in Southlake, Texas. Very similar architecture and color scheming.

http://www.solana-texas.com/


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