Photos by Eric Taylor
Davis Brody Bond has completed the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. The architecture firm modernized the existing complex by rehabilitating two historic Dutch Cape-style buildings on Embassy Row: the Ambassador's Residence from 1936 and the Chancery, built in 1963.
"Our primary goal was to create a design that speaks to the transformation of South Africa, a design which respects the historic buildings while expressing the transparency, equality, and modernity to which the New South Africa has become," Rob Anderson, director of Davis Brody Bond's Washington, D.C. office, said in a statement. "By connecting the old with the new we expanded the embassy's public areas, green spaces, and infrastructure through a state-of-the-art renovation and expansion."
The design team created a central point of entry for staff and visitors between the two existing buildings. A glass-enclosed reception hall houses a three-story atrium and new multi-purpose rooms. Sustainability informed many of the design decisions, with features such as low-VOC materials, recycled and regionally sourced materials, light pollution reduction, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, natural daylighting, and native drought-tolerance landscaping.
Outside the embassy entrance stands a nearly 10-foot statue of former South African president Nelson Mandela, designed by South African artist Jean Doyle and modeled after Mandela’s departure from the Drakenstein Correctional Centre in 1990.