The U.S. Presence in the United Arab Emirates
The United States has enjoyed warm relations with the UAE since 1971. The U.S. was the third country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the UAE and has had an ambassador resident in the UAE since 1974.
The new embassy compound is the third building housing the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi. The new building expresses strong, enduring relationship between the two countries.
Sustainability a Goal for U.S. Embassy Projects
The commission for the design/build contract was awarded by the Department of State to the team of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), the second largest architectural firm in the world, and the J.A. Jones Construction Company. J.A. Jones has designed and constructed U.S. embassy compounds throughout the Middle East, Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and the Far East. The team of HOK/J.A. Jones partnered with local firms Al Hamed Development & Construction and Arab Consultants for their expertise in the local market.
The shape of the new embassy was designed to blend into the local landscape. The slanting vertical lines and sloping roof were designed to suggest the rolling, sloping sand dunes of the desert. The project, in fact, was originally called “The Dunes”. The majority of windows are located on the north and south facades, with a narrow, almost windowless West wall to reduce exposure to the sun during the hottest time of the day.
The new embassy has many other energy saving features, including the use of solar panels for producing hot water, raised floor system used for air conditioning, air cooled water chillers, motion detector light switches and energy efficient window glazing. Each workstation has its own temperature controls. The air conditioning system has digital controls and a Building Automation System for computerized energy efficient building operations.
Constructed Wetlands and Water Conservation
There is a constructed “wetlands” that will be used for the natural recycling of sanitary sewage for landscape drip irrigation. The extensive landscaping on the walkways and in parking lot areas also helps reduced ambient temperatures. Native salt resistant plants are being used to the maximum extent practicable for landscaping. The folded slab roof will shed water into the man-made wadi feature to help recharge groundwater. Gravel beds at the perimeter walls will be low maintenance and collect water runoff.
Art in the Embassy
The artwork collection in the Embassy expresses images and ideas that are central to American culture and is reflective of a shared cultural point of view. Although most of the artworks are by American artists, the collection also includes works by a prominent artist from the United Arab Emirates, Abdul Qader Al Rais.
The works in the collection are linked by a visual language that incorporates American and Arabic cultural themes and influences, such as geometry and mathematics, the cosmos and astronomy, pattern and calligraphy. Many artists have been visually inspired by motifs derived from architecture and design. The collection also explores a mutual interest in landscape as cultural language. All together, the new embassy displays 112 works by 47 artists, spanning the full range of media, from photography, paintings, and works on paper, to sculpture, textiles, and the decorative arts.