Miller Hull

New U.S. Consulate Campus, Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico
Elevating occupant and visitor experience in the “heart” of Mexican art and culture
Client U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO)
Size 8.5-acre site


Guadalajara, the vibrant capital of Jalisco and one of Mexico’s largest metropolitan areas, is known as the “Pearl of the West,” highlighting its status as Western Mexico’s most prominent cultural center. Situated on a plateau 1,500 meters above sea level, the city is surrounded by the Primavera Forest to the west, the dramatic 600-meter-deep Oblatos Canyon to the northeast, and Lake Chapala to the southeast. The city is located in the biodiverse Bajio Dry Forest ecoregion, which faces various ecological challenges including urbanization and deforestation.

The new U.S. consulate general is located in Guadalajara’s Monraz neighborhood, where it enjoys a central position in a dynamic community that combines historical charm with modern amenities. The multi-building compound includes a new 12,000-square-meter office building, entry pavilions, Marines residence, support and utility buildings, recreational areas and two 150-vehicle underground parking garages.

Given Guadalajara’s mild climate, outdoor living is not only possible but also quite common provided there is protection from the sun and rain. To accommodate this indoor/outdoor flexibility, the building integrates an interpretation of the vernacular “palapa” shading device, which not only shades the building’s façade and secure outdoor areas, but also provides the building a unifying civic gesture befitting the  facility’s significance. The project also prioritizes the preservation of the local environment and ecosystem by retaining a series of street trees that border the site and protecting a mature grove of Jacaranda trees just inside the compound. These mature trees will provide an immediate benefit for employees and visitors with shade, colorful vegetation, and habitat for wildlife.

The current average of 1,200 daily consular visitors is expected to increase to 2,000 over the next decade, driving much of the consular section’s layout and the overall building and site design. The design team worked closely with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to define a new paradigm for consular service: a second-floor consular department. Cantilevered out from the floors above and below, the glass-clad consular section volumetrically expresses and celebrates the primary function of the building, while also providing a clear wayfinding element for visitors. Accessed by escalators and elevators, the consular area occupies the building’s entire second level and provides visitors with ample service windows, improved service times, and panoramic views through the mature Jacaranda trees to the city beyond.

The new facility prioritizes a high-quality work environment that is centered around worker health and comfort. Emphasizing natural light and scenic views, the design features thin office floor plates and concentrated glazing in open workstation zones to maximize daylight and views. The third floor functions as a social hub where consulate personnel can access dining, service, and gathering spaces, as well as a spacious outdoor terrace for staff’s exclusive use. Open staircases channel natural light and ventilation.

The new consulate exemplifies environmental stewardship by integrating advanced energy- and water-efficient solutions into its design. Exceeding stringent Federal Performance Goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy, the building reduces energy consumption by 36% compared to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED ® baseline and is targeting LEED Silver certification.  By integrating passive strategies such as the overhead palapa shade structure, which provides year-round comfort and reduces solar heat gain. with daylighting and efficient HVAC systems, energy consumption is reduced by 23% before renewables. Solar panels will contribute 15%  of the building’s energy needs, further reducing the project’s reliance on traditional energy sources.

All of the site’s water features utilize rainwater captured from building roofs. Additionally, the use of drought-adapted native plants and irrigation sourced from treated wastewater supports the project’s goal of net-zero irrigation water consumption.