In a celebration of more than 70 years of U.S.-Sri Lankan friendship, partnership, and bilateral ties, the Honorable President Ranil Wickremesinghe, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, and the U.S. Department of State’s Under Secretary for Management John Bass officially opened the new U.S. Embassy on Galle Road today in a festive event that included officials and private citizens from both countries.
“It was a great honor to celebrate our new Embassy in the presence of the President of Sri Lanka, honored guests, and colleagues,” said U.S. Ambassador Chung. “We have had an embassy in Colombo since Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948, and the new campus symbolizes our enduring partnership with Sri Lanka. Americans and Sri Lankans worked together to build this state-of-the-art facility that epitomizes respect for the environment and appreciation of Sri Lankan architectural, cultural, and artistic themes. We are pleased to open our new doors to our Sri Lankan friends.”
Under Secretary Bass stated: “The new embassy highlights the important diplomatic relationship between the United States and Sri Lanka and provides the first impression of the United States for many Sri Lankans. It also demonstrates sustainable design, construction, and operations that represent the best of U.S. architecture, engineering, and building standards.”
The new Embassy is situated on the existing, expanded embassy site along the seafront in central Colombo and provides a secure, modern, sustainable, and resilient platform for U.S. diplomacy in Sri Lanka. The architecture and landscape of the new Embassy were designed to embrace Sri Lanka’s ecology, history, and culture and are heavily informed by Colombo’s tropical climate. Domestically sourced natural stone and wood reference the region’s rich selection of materials in a neutral palette that draws attention to the lushness of the landscape. The Embassy’s interior incorporates textures and patterns inspired by local culture, art, and the surrounding gardens.
A model of environmental stewardship, the new embassy was designed to reduce energy costs and greenhouse-gas emissions while increasing security and augmenting renewable energy usage. To mitigate the effects of strong sun and heavy rainfall, the new embassy integrates regionally available weather-resistant materials, an advanced stormwater management system, and, soon, photovoltaic arrays that will offset roughly eleven percent of the building’s annual energy use. The project is registered with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) — a global green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices — and is on track to achieve Silver certification.
The new Embassy also contains a permanent art collection, curated by the Office of Art in Embassies, that includes art in a variety of media, including painting, photography, textiles, and sculpture by both U.S. and Sri Lankan artists. Highlights include site-specific commissions of Birds for Sri Lanka and a wall sculpture representing the atolls and coral life in the oceans. These works reflect an understanding of the diversity and richness of U.S. and Sri Lankan ecology and cultural heritage.
The Bureau of Overseas Building Operations spearheaded the new embassy’s construction. Integrus Architecture of Seattle was the architect for the project, and Caddell Construction Company, LLC of Montgomery, Alabama, constructed the complex, injecting roughly $90 million into the local economy.