South African Embassy South African Embassy / Washington, DC, United States

South African Embassy

"While giving respect to history, we used Cambridge mesh to help marry the two historic structures with a new progressive space and design."
- Robert Anderson - Director, Davis Brody Bond - Washington DC Office
  • Location: Washington, DC, United States
  • Year Completed: 2014
  • End Use: Government
  • Architect: Davis Brody Bond
  • General Contractor: Turner Construction
  • Owner: South African Embassy


The South African Embassy complex was originally built in 1935 and had an addition built in 1966.  It was an old Dutch colonial limestone building with a courtyard in the middle.  The Ambassor's residence was joined to the rest of the embassy by a connecting bridge.  The Mission had outgrown the space on Massachusetts Avenue and was looking to modernize it. Davis Brody Bond (DBB) was hired to do a major renovation of the embassy, moving the ambassador's residence and replacing the connecting bridge with a new atrium area.  


DBB's design concept for the renovation included closing off the courtyard with a glass curtain wall in front (South facing), covered with an architectural mesh sunscreen on the outside.  The design called for the mesh material to wrap around as a single continuous ribbon and become the ceiling for the entry way as well.  DBB's goal was to connect the old with the new and provide a new welcoming area for visitors to the embassy. 


The huge Cambridge Architectural stainless steel mesh panel on the facade is both functional and beautiful.  The mesh provides shading, reducing heat gain through the front glass curtain wall, but is also aesthetically striking.  The architect worked closely with Cambridge to develop custom manufactured attachments which wrap the mesh seamlessly from the green roof level all the way down to the front entry.  

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