Knot Studio’s work in Guatemala City expresses the requirements of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations’ Design Excellence program. All aspects are carefully crafted to integrate with the project’s talented architect and showcase landscape design that is beautiful, contextual, and functionally seamless while supporting the client’s high safety and environmental standards.
The new U.S. Embassy Compound in Guatemala City shows the possibilities of partnership between environmentally conscious design and state-of-the-art security. The compound is situated in the eastern foothills of the Valle de la Ermita on a steeply sloping site overlooking a lush ravine. For Guatemalans, the embassy compound can be a first introduction to the United States—raising the stakes for Knot Studio as the site planner and landscape architect.
Working with Miller Hull, Knot was challenged to organize the design of an 18,000-square-foot structure on a 9 1/2-acre parcel. The extreme topography required a design language of terracing with the office tower and plaza at the site’s highest point. The building program includes a new embassy facility, a Marine Security Guard Residence, support buildings, and a below-grade parking garage for 500 vehicles.
Knot Studio’s design also forged a solid connection to the ecological context of the pine-oak biome and a cultural tie to Guatemala’s ancient Mayan roots. The native green connections show Knot Studio’s dedication to landscape design that is contextual and functionally seamless within high safety and environmental standards. The heart of the compound and the first impression for many visitors is a large plaza and consular garden shaded by canopies and photovoltaic panels.
Knot Studio designers worked within the Design Excellence program requirements while working closely with Miller Hull on innovative solutions to achieve the highest energy efficiency goals. The project is targeted to exceed Federal Performance Goals for energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption by 32 percent and provide 11 percent of the new office building’s energy consumption with solar panels. In addition, the embassy will treat and reuse wastewater onsite to reduce offsite flows—with 100 percent of irrigation water coming from wastewater reuse.