Photo: Chancery, 2008
I went to Lisbon on the 25th anniversary of the project in 2008, after spending several months obtaining advanced clearances. I took my camera, to the predictable dismay of the guards, as well as my family. We toured the site and buildings with the site manager and had lunch in the Manor House. It was a great experience.
As we arrived by taxi, I immediately saw that our precious gatehouse was gone, replaced by a large, boxy security building. There was also a large new commissary building on the south side of the old buildings where the stable had been. Later I discovered on Google Earth that a major new entry drive had been added on the south side of the site.
A new high-rise building had replaced the Quinta estate on the west side of the site, and the adjacent highways had expanded up against the outside walls. At the time of design, there was concern about listening devices in distant buildings monitoring windows in the Chancery, but this problem must have been solved given the large, new, nearly buildings.
The project was no longer in a semi-rural setting, but in most important respects the site, landscape, and buildings were still intact and generally in original condition. New parking and recreation areas had been added, but consistent with the original landscape plan.
The building had weathered well and looked essentially as it did in 1983. The only noticeable exterior change was that window grilles on the lower levels had been removed and the operable wood windows replaced with fixed, steel explosion-resistant windows.
The interior had also remained essentially as designed. The Danish pendent lights had been removed from some offices, and some of the original exposed concrete structural elements had been painted to match plaster walls. Normal people don’t share architects’ love of concrete as a finish material.