The design for the new U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados combines prevalent vernacular architectural styles, local materials and modernist forms in an architecture that symbolizes U.S. democratic ideals while meeting challenging building and site requirements set by the U.S. Department of State. Located on a 3.2 acre site, the new Embassy includes the renovation of an existing five-story office building as well as a new addition of similar scale. Stringent physical and technical security requirements and a highly specialized program were configured around challenging site constraints and within adaptive reuse parameters for the existing building. The resulting hinged design connects public and private functions with a central gallery and representational space, designed to exhibit American and local art selected by the Arts in Embassies curators and to form a welcoming and graceful American diplomatic presence. The design concept for the new Embassy was inspired by one of the characteristic small island dwellings locally known as chattel houses. These diminutive structures with saw-toothed roofs, traditionally inhabited by slaves, were small enough to relocate as the residents moved from place to place. The older civic buildings of Barbados on the other hand, typically reflect the island's colonial history. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, it was determined not to emulate the colonial model, which represented a non-democratic era in the history of the island. Instead, locally inspired elements such as the rich use of bright colors to differentiate scale and volume, deep shading devices to protect against the tropical sun, and the inclusion of local materials such as plaster work with contrasting smooth and textured finishes, naturally finished local wood and honed coral, were incorporated to subtly reference the diplomatic mission of the U.S. Embassy.
Although not required, the design for the new Embassy meets LEED Silver design standards including adaptive reuse of existing building, solar control measures, use of local materials, site orientation, energy efficient building systems, including exclusive use of energy-star rated equipment for HVAC, energy efficient interior and exterior lighting, and interior finishes with high recycled content, including cork flooring, interior office finishes, carpet and furnishings.