Miller Hull

Democracy and Maya architecture inform Miller Hull’s US embassy in Guatemala City

7-13-2023 | News


Design studio The Miller Hull Partnership has drawn upon Maya architecture and the “openness and optimism” of American democracy for the US embassy in Guatemala‘s capital.

Located about nine kilometres from the city’s historic centre, the embassy complex sits on a sloping, 9.4-acre (3.8-hectare) site and encompasses a main office building, support structures, a garage, a gym and a sports court. Approximately 300 people work at the campus.

Designed by Seattle’s The Miller Hull Partnership, the complex features a series of rectilinear volumes of varying dimensions that are set within a richly vegetated landscape.

“The conceptual form is reflective of the important relationship between our two countries,” said David Miller, founding partner of Miller Hull.

The site’s main element is the office building, which consists of conjoined bars that step down the hillside. Lower levels are clad in grey granite. The upper portion is a glazed tower wrapped in a brise-soleil made of translucent glass with stainless steel fittings.

“The mega-structural, dark-stone base references the pre-Hispanic Maya architecture of Guatemala, while the light and airy, white-steel office tower symbolizes the openness and optimism of the United States democracy.”

During the design process, the architects also considered the surrounding context, which includes mountains, forested ravines and nearby ecological parks.

The building site posed challenges given its steepness, and the team used a terracing approach to stabilize the topography and organize the campus.

“It was a complex puzzle, working to fit all the campus program onto a relatively small, steeply sloped site,” said Mathew Albores, principal at Miller Hull.

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