Located on a 3.2-acre site, this 86,000 SF Embassy entailed the renovation of an existing 5-story office building shell as well as a new addition of similar scale. To ensure that the new addition did not add excessive mass to the large pre-existing structure, Sorg Architects’ design involved turning the two building volumes perpendicular to one another, thereby providing a continuous roofline and establishing a campus-like horizontal scale.
Throughout, vernacular architectural components, such as bright colors to differentiate scale and volume as well as deep shading devices to protect against the tropical sun, are incorporated to form a welcoming and graceful American diplomatic presence. In keeping with this message, rather than emulate the older civic buildings of Barbados, exterior design elements are derived from pre-colonial island structures, such as the diminutive dwellings inhabited by slaves during the colonial era, known as Chattel homes. This choice, made in close coordination with the US Department of State, was one of consciously breaking with a non-democratic era in the history of the island.
Just as the exterior of this building makes references to aspects of local vernacular architecture through form, composition, and colors, the interior design is inspired by the simple, pared down elegance of some of the more notable island buildings. The design includes the use of plaster works with both smooth and textured finishes, honed coral limestone reminiscent of the building’s immediate context, as well as accents of naturally finished wood.
In addition to contextual sustainable strategies gleaned from the local climate, the facility meets LEED Silver standards. Sustainable elements include adaptive reuse of the existing building, solar control measures, native plant species in landscape design, and interior finishes with high recycled content. Moreover, the new addition takes advantage of the unique site’s quarry walls, which reflect light inside the building for adequate interior daylighting.