Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design and blast engineering services for the 200,000-square-foot U.S. embassy in Berlin, on the Pariser Platz site in front of the Brandenburg Gate. The embassy, which rises four and a quarter levels above the intersection of Behrenstrasse and Ebertstrasse, has a limestone facade to blend in with the surrounding buildings. Challenges included strict zoning intended to restore the historic character of the square, the U.S. Department of State’s sustainable design criteria, and complex security requirements. Mitigation measures had to consider everything from small arms fire, forced entry, and mob-type attack to vehicular bombs and other terrorist threats. Although the site did not allow for the 100-foot setbacks federally mandated for new embassies, innovative protective design avoided the need for fortress-like measures.
The embassy wings around the courtyard house the residence, embassy, and chancellery. The entrance facing Pariser Platz welcomes conference center users and important visitors, who enter a rotunda set into the building mass to protect the courtyard. A lodge containing staff and private dining divides the inner courtyard between the lower, public northern end and the private southern garden, one level higher, above parking and loading areas. The lodge is linked to all program areas via bridges and balconies, encouraging staff interaction. Construction was consistent with LEED certification standards; green features include energy efficiency, daylighting, rainwater collection and a partial green roof.