January 2003

This is a rhetorical proposal intended to offer food for thought about what the landscape and urban design solution to the problem of lane closures surrounding the U.S. Embassy could be and what it could do.

The required security measures, while probably necessary, are a significant intrusion into the public realm of our city - they are literally invading our streets. The point of this proposal is to suggest that we should not simply settle for the easy, pretty solution, but rather invest this project with public meaning. It has the potential to elevate and support the urban life of the city in both physical and intellectual terms.

In that spirit, this sketch proposal amplifies the kind of internal dialogue already present in the embassy design itself and certainly present in the need to expand the security perimeter around the building. As the world’s only remaining superpower the U.S. bears the burden and responsibility of being its’ global watchdog of peace and democracy – a role it must approach with some trepidation and ambivalence since it is a role that also makes it a target in the world of global terrorism. It is strong and powerful yet it is that very same strength that creates these new burdens.

The juxtaposition of the imperialist presence and imagery of the embassy with the adjacent peacekeeping monument is the starting point for this particular reflection. It imagines the traffic lanes occupied by scrub brush, small trees, and park benches protected at the perimeter by fragments of the peacekeeping monument and reinforced concrete sentries keeping a watchful, protective eye.