July 24, 2009
  AIA Calls on State Department to Integrate Security and Design Excellence

Summary: “Design for Diplomacy: New Embassies for the 21st Century,” just released by the AIA, calls on the U.S. Department of State to integrate design excellence with embassy security. The report includes 59 recommendations made by the AIA’s 21st Century Embassy Task Force, chaired by 2009 Kemper Award recipient Barbara A. Nadel, FAIA.

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The task force is an unprecedented collaboration of more than 50 leading architects, engineers, landscape architects, ambassadors, diplomats, Foreign Service personnel, public art experts, and art and architectural historians.

“I believe we can build embassies that are not only safe and secure, but embassies that also reflect America’s values of openness, creativity, and innovation," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) on receiving the report. "The late Patrick Moynihan was outspoken in his belief that our public buildings should reflect the highest aspirations of our society. And the AIA report is an important first step toward re-establishing principles of design excellence in our embassies and consulates abroad."

The recommendations include:

  • Developing a program that integrates security and design excellence for new embassies
  • Integrating sustainability and sustainable best practices in all new facilities
  • Establishing a multi-disciplinary peer review process that includes diplomatic and Foreign Service stakeholders, design and construction professionals, art advisors, senior Diplomatic Security officers, and those familiar with the foreign post as peers
  • Widening the pool of firms to include women and minority owned businesses and emerging firms
  • Allocating resources for public art in all embassies.

“Design excellence demonstrates that the U.S. can provide diplomatic facilities that are secure, sustainable, and symbolize America’s vitality, enduring strength, decency, and innovation," says Nadel, principal of Barbara Nadel Architect in New York. "This is an important challenge and opportunity for America’s architects and engineers.”

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