The US Embassy in Beijing, China, designed by Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is the State Department’s second largest project in its history. Like the newly unveiled embassy in London, it is intended to respect the host country, American democratic ideals, security, and environmental sensitivity. The complex is really a neighborhood within a walled green space. Art, natural light, water reclamation, and other sustainable and thoughtful features abound and have lead to the project earning several awards since its completion in 2008.
The 10-acre complex is broken into three main areas — one for social and community functions, one for a professional office, and one for the consulate’s activities (the Consular Pavilion). The project’s green building features revolve around water and light. A rain catchment system feeds the adjacent lotus pond, which clarifies the water and provides a heat sink to assist in cooling the buildings. The surrounding garden, designed by the landscape architecture firm PWP, provides plenty of water features and green space with a collection of plants from the Americas and China and also acts as a security parameter.