November 1, 2007

The Embassy of Babel

Diplomats are now being drafted into this embassy. They are resisting being sent to a war zone. What's to stop our GI's? But what kills are the balls on the Kansas City architectural firm that got the juicy contract. A billions + half a year to run? Piece of cakewalk in the dizzying heat.

The new United States Embassy rises above Baghdad—one of the only projects in Iraq being completed within budget and on time. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images.
The new American Embassy in Baghdad will be the largest, least welcoming, and most lavish embassy in the world: a $600 million massively fortified compound with 619 blast-resistant apartments and a food court fit for a shopping mall. Unfortunately, like other similarly constructed U.S. Embassies, it may already be obsolete.
The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad
William Langewiesche, Vanity Fear
November 1, 2007
That was the process that has led, now, to this—the construction of an extravagant new fortress into which a thousand American officials and their many camp followers are fleeing. The compound, which will be completed by late fall, is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world, a walled expanse the size of Vatican City, containing 21 reinforced buildings on a 104-acre site along the Tigris River, enclosed within an extension of the Green Zone which stretches toward the airport road. The new embassy cost $600 million to build, and is expected to cost another $1.2 billion a year to run—a high price even by the profligate standards of the war in Iraq. The design is the work of an architectural firm in Kansas City named Berger Devine Yaeger, which angered the State Department last May by posting its plans and drawings on the Internet, and then responding to criticism with the suggestion that Google Earth offers better views. Google Earth offers precise distance measurements and geographic coordinates too.

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