About

Photo: Nervous Marine guard (apparently reaching for his gun) during photograhy visit, 1984

Photography

It is not easy to photograph an embassy.  The State Department is obviously concerned that photos might show security measures or classified documents. When I toured the project in 1984, I was accompanied at all times by a nervous Marine Security Guard. He couldn’t believe it when I asked to take photos of the Ambassador’s office, but the Ambassador’s executive assistant said that it was not a problem because the Ambassador was out of town and because there were hardly ever any important papers in his office anyway.  Seriously, concern about publishing photos and plans of the project should be offset by the fact that most of them were already published in periodicals in the 1980s, as can be seen on the Publications page.

As previously explained, most of the photographs are digital scans of old 35mm Kodachrome 64 slides from 1978-84 that I took with a Nikon SLR.  The Nikon I have today is digital.  Somehow Paul Simon knew they would take the Kodachrome away.

Richard Metler, Fred Bassetti, and Catherine Bassetti also took photographs as noted.

Editing

Richard Metler and James Mueller provided historical information and editing assistance for the website.

Typography

I wanted the website to have a look reminiscent of 1980s drawings, which used Corbu stencils, Leroy lettering, and ubiquitous architects' hand lettering.  The stencil font used for major titles is a free Google font.  The hand lettered font used for most text is Tekton, an Adobe font created from digital scans of the lettering of Francis D.K. Ching, a retired architecture professor at the University of Washington.

Google Earth

This is a link to the current Google Earth view of the embassy.

Recognition

A key purpose of this website is to recognize the individual architects who contributed to the embassy project, which until now has never happened.  Some of them are no longer with us.

After more than 45 years of practice I am still amazed that architects receive so little credit, even within their own profession.  Architects choose their career because of their love of design, yet even the few that actually design significant projects are rarely recognized themselves.  Architectural designers normally spend years nurturing their designs to reality, only to remain anonymous while sole credit is given to a senior partner who may or may not have been involved with design.  The primary role of senior partners is often getting the job- critical to be sure, and they deserve marketing awards.  (An ironic twist is that, because actual project designers are seldom officially recognized, design credit for projects is often claimed by multiple people and firms.)

Fred Bassetti was fairly generous about sharing credit, but tradition and industry practice dictated that only his name has ever been associated with the project.

Contrast this with other creative industries which also involve many people, big egos, and unique and expensive projects.  The movie industry gives top billing to star actors and directors, but also credits everyone who has even a tiny role in a production, listing scores of people from costume managers to grips and gaffers.  Similarly, scientific research papers credit everyone from the principal investigator down to young post-docs.

Last word

This website began after the pandemic hit in 2020, when I retired suddenly and found myself without any projects for the first time in decades.  Isolated at home, I wanted to try something new, and creating this website was the right project at the right time, combining architecture, history, travel, photography, graphic design, and writing.

Christopher Kirk, Architect
Seattle, WA
Chris(at)Kirkllc.com