Saturday, October 20, 2007

U.S. Embassy - [Athens]

The American Embassy "Chancery" (office) building in Athens was designed by famed Bauhaus School architect Walter Gropius (the Architects' Collaborative and consulting architect was Pericles Sakellarios - 1905/1985). It was constructed between 1959 and 1961 and is a protected architectural landmark. Gropius' famous design was in the characteristic simple Bauhaus form, and, as the architect said, it had been inspired by the architecture of the Parthenon.

The Embassy is now constructing a Chancery Annex, the first new diplomatic construction in Greece by the United States in 45 years. The new Annex, designed by Kallman, McKinnell and Wood, will feature a classic, understated style.Indigenous materials will be used in the construction and the Annex will feature facades of the same Greek marble used in the Chancery.

Construction is expected to be completed by spring of 2007, and the new offices to begin operating soon thereafter (the construction has nowadays been completed). Excluding the cost of land acquisition, the project will cost approximately $40 million.

The green spaces and gardens will occupy most of the land currently under construction. Trellises filled with plants and flowers will cover the open areas and walkways around the buildings. The parking facility will be covered with a roof trellis as well. While the building permit and zoning law allow for approximately 9,000 sq.m. of structures, the Embassy will be constructing only 5,000 sq.m. of buildings, leaving plenty of open areas and green space around it. In addition, along Gelonos Street, on the northwest side of the Embassy compound and on land owned by the City of Athens, there is a wide stretch that will be turned into a park after the completion of the construction.

The new extension features a 20m. garden scultpure by US artist Michael Singer in marble, pre-cast concrete and metal that emerges from the landscaping, providing seating and elements of slowly coursing water. The sculpture's materials and textures are designed to allude to archaeological discoveries related to Greek culture while the whole is visible from various points of the Embassy compound. Within the new annex is a gallery that houses an art collection of work by 15 Greek or Greek-American artists.


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