- Architect / Engineer Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP
- American General Contractor B.L. Harbert International, LLC
- Chinese General Contractor China Huashi Enterprises LTD
- Site 7.4 acres
- Office Space 18,000 gross square meters
- Total Project Cost $267 million ($11M Design; $256M Construction)
- The new Consulate General is located on a 7.4 -acre urban site in Guangzhou’s booming new Central Business District adjacent to the Pearl River.
- Situated in a garden setting, the seven-building complex includes a consular building, an office building, a residence for U.S. Marines, a warehouse with service shops, and three entrance pavilions to welcome employees, visitors, and consular customers.
- The new Consulate General will create a secure and pleasant workplace for nearly 400
employees, and a friendly and comfortable place for visitors.
- The new Consulate General is America’s second purpose-built facility in China, following the completion of the Beijing Embassy in 2008.
- The centerpiece of the complex is a four-story Consulate office building featuring an interior “Great Hall” and 67 service windows for visa applicants and U.S. citizens. The stone-clad building is flooded with natural light, and the Great Hall features natural wood wall and ceiling finishes as well as local stone flooring.
- Teak wood was chosen as a finish material for its ability to naturally withstand exterior climatic conditions; monsoon rains and extreme tropical heat, without reducing in strength, cracking, warping, or becoming brittle. Raw Teak wood was imported and finished in local mills in southern China.
- The stone-clad exterior concrete shell of the Consulate office building is an organic structural and environmental form. The curved shape maximizes the efficiency of these qualities while the inward cant along the east façade catches the prevailing easterly breeze, focusing it on the consular plaza. This shape also gives the building a directional stance, emphasizing the civic quality of the more public eastern face. Its north and south ends, with their deep overhangs provide welcome, open and warm gestures to the public.
- The architectural conception of the main Consulate office building begins with the visa process itself. The need to move thousands of daily applicants through a seamless, simple, and clear spatial sequence is the primary public function of the consular plaza. The arching roof form provides shelter from the heat and rain; there is also a gathering space for those awaiting their appointments, which can accommodate over 1,000 non-immigrant visa (NIV) and immigrant visa (IV) customers daily.
- The facilities were designed for flexibility for current and future use. With the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China evolving so quickly and the demand for consular services growing at such unprecedented rates, the building is designed to adapt to these changes easily with minimal cost.
- The contrasting office building is a formal cube of self-weathering steel, clad in clear glass at its upper register, and resting on a stone base.
- The Consulate General also offers facilities for public events. The Great Hall, the state-of-the-art multipurpose room, and the Information Resource Center will be used to host presentations, exhibitions and events to foster exchanges and mutual understanding between the United States and China.
- The construction groundbreaking took place in October 2009 and the project was completed in June 2013.
- Over 800 Chinese and American workers were involved in construction of the new Consulate General.
- The landscape design facilitates an intuitive understanding of movement through the buildings and site. This landscape includes a walkway modulated by a tapestry of local stones and unit pavers, interspersed with living plants in a pattern that extends from the visa windows, across the Great Hall, through the garden and entry pavilion, and out to Hua Xia Road.
- The building façade and landscaped areas integrate local stones from Fujian province with trees and other plants from local nuseries in southern China. A variety of tree and plant species were used, including the Hong Kong Orchid, Chinese Scholar, Madagascar Almond, Camphore, Crape-Myrtle and Flame trees; as well as Iris Pseudoacorus Grass and Zebra Grass.
- The Consulate General facility is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council with the goal of earning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certifi cation. The design demonstrates strategies to reduce energy consumption and pollution, mitigate storm water runoff and other development impacts, and create a more livable, sustainable community.
- Bilingual signage in public spaces highlights the green building and site features.
- The electric lights in the buildings automatically dim when daylight can illuminate the building’s interior, saving on energy and costs. Daylight is controlled to prevent heat gain through the use of recessed exterior windows and wooden louvers.
- The main Consulate offi ce building features a white, highly reflective roof, which reduces cooling needs by refl ecting the sun’s heat. Green roofs are featured on the smaller entrance pavilions and service buildings with hardy grasses and fl owering plants. The green roofs help insulate the buildings, capture and fi lter rainwater, and filter city air.
- Storm water is retained on site and fi ltered through a series of “bio basins” or sunken gardens filled with indigenous grasses and plants.
- The building has water-conserving plumbing fi xtures, including low-fl ush toilets and low-flow sinks.
- Waste generated from construction activity was sorted on site and over 50% was diverted from landfills for recycling or reuse.
The permanent art collection, curated by the Offi ce of Art in Embassies (AIE), includes works by contemporary American and Chinese artists for both the interior and exterior spaces. The works include a variety of media: paint, photography, textiles, paper, and steel.
The Chinese photographers in the collection—An Hong, Gao Bo, Guan Ce, Hong Lei, Jiang Zhi, Jin Yongquan, Liu Anping, Liu Zheng, Qiu Zhijie, Rong Rong, San Mao, Wang Xu, Yan Lei, Zhao Liang, Zheng Guogu, and Zhuang Hui—all played a seminal role in the history of Chinese experimental photography.
The collection also features three site-specifi c commissions by renowned video artists Doug Aitken, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Bill Viola.
In addition, The Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) has graciously donated a monumental work by U.S. artist, Joel Shapiro. FAPE is a private non-profi t organization that supports the Art in Embassies’ mission and the U.S. Department of State.