Historical structures in Washington DC reworked by Davis Brody Bond to create new home for South African Embassy
Davis Brody Bond has celebrated the completion of the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. Adapting and reusing two historically significant structures on Embassy Row - the Ambassador's Residence (1936) and the Chancery (1963) - Davis Brody Bond was commissioned by the Embassy of South Africa to consolidate and modernise the complex. The rehabilitation project upgrades the embassy to meet their current and future programmatic Chancery needs by providing a 55,000 sq ft build-out.
The Ambassador's Residence and the Chancery building, built in Dutch Cape style, were in need of updated building systems, improved life safety and security, general maintenance, and an increase of on-site parking for their growing personnel. Davis Brody Bond's renovations focused on the creation of a new and welcoming environment for embassy staff and visitors through a major expansion of the public spaces and infrastructure. To support of the embassy's outreach mission, the new design intends to create a new image for the embassy that symbolises the ‘New South Africa’.
The team’s straightforward solution captured the exterior space between the two existing structures, creating a central point of entry for staff and visitors, thereby improving access, circulation and security. The new glass-enclosed reception hall houses a 3-storey atrium and new multi-purpose rooms, which will be used for public outreach programming.
The Embassy, together with the project team, also chose to adopt several sustainable design strategies to ensure the health and wellbeing of the buildings' occupants as well as to reduce the project's environmental footprint. Some of these strategies include: existing landscaping and open space preserved; significant structural and non-structural reuse of existing buildings; stormwater quantity and quality control; light pollution reduction; materials with low VOC emissions; and native, drought-tolerant landscaping.
Finally, a statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela, has been placed amongst world leaders memorialised on Washington, D.C.'s historic Embassy Row. The 3m statue, with his fist raised triumphantly over his head, is the work of South African artist Jean Doyle, who modelled the statue after photographs of Mandela leaving Drakenstein Correctional Centre in South Africa in 1990.