Representing the important diplomatic relationship between the United States and Guatemala
Client U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO)
Size 9.4 acre site
Guatemala City is located in a mountain valley of the central highlands, 1500 meters above sea level. The city is characterized by a network of deep forested ravines that provide habitat and migratory pathways for an abundant amount of biodiversity. A major fault line exists in the region which is evident in the high seismic activity.
The design for the new facility underscores the important diplomatic relationship between the United States and Guatemala and provides the first impression for all Guatemalans planning to visit the United States. The new US Embassy compound is in Zona 16, 4 kilometers southeast of the city’s historic center. The 9.4-acre parcel is situated in eastern foothills of the Valle de la Ermita on a steeply sloping site overlooking a lush ravine to the east. The design is comprised of an 18,800-square meter new chancery building, Marine Security Guard Residence, support buildings and below-grade garage for 500 vehicles.
To stabilize the extreme topography, a language of terracing was introduced as the basic site organization. Building from the site conditions, the office building emerges from the ground plane as two complementary bars – a stone base and a glass tower. The base reflects an earthbound quality through its materiality and its relationship to the terracing of the site. The tower is characterized by openness and transparency, offering an ethereal counterpoint to the structure of the site. A courtyard at the intersection of the tower and base forms the heart of the building with communal programs surrounding it. A generous plaza and consular garden on the south end of the site, shaded by canopies of photovoltaic panels, provides a hospitable waiting area for the large volume of anticipated consular visitors.
The project is targeted to exceed the Federal Performance Goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing energy consumption by 32% and then providing 11% of the new office building’s energy consumption with solar photovoltaics.