Urban Fold

American Embassies Undergo Design Scrutiny

Designing the U.S. embassy abroad is any architect's dream. But a crash between safety imperatives and beautiful design often results in "a dull series of near-identical, boxy bunkers," says The Economist.

By all accounts, security concerns are of utmost importance when building a diplomatic compound oversea. Close coordination between the host country and the State Department is critical, particularly in parts of the world where political tensions are mercurial. After all, a single turn of event could extend the project indefinitely.

"Even in places at peace, the obstacles can be hard to foresee: a dead tree on the site in Phnom Penh turned out to be revered by locals, forcing the design to be changed to preserve it; in Kigali, excavations for the foundations unearthed human remains; in Kiev the winters are so cold that it was hard to keep the concrete from freezing; and in Monrovia an arms embargo impeded the import of the explosives needed to blast away some awkward rocks," notes The Economist.

Full Story: First, dig your moat

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