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The renovated front entrance.

The new atrium.

Mission Statement

An embassy renovation celebrates Norway’s rich heritage

The Royal Norwegian Embassy and Chancery in Washington claims an enviable perch between the Vice President’s residence and the National Cathedral—and a recent transformation secures its place in this rarified company. Conceived by the DC office of Fentress Architects, the renovation brings the 30,000-square-foot, 1977 building into the 21st century, employing native resources such as copper and wood to reflect Norway’s traditions of woodworking, ship-building and fishing.

“While providing functional, accessibility and sustainability upgrades, our architecture makes Norway’s rich heritage visible on one of the most culturally significant streets in the United States and the world,” says Steve White, the project’s principal-in-charge.

A restored limestone shell comprises much of the outer structure; openings in its façade admit generous daylight and views of the gardens and street. A window wall around the entry sends a message of transparency and welcome.

Inside, a finned curtainwall of Norwegian spruce forms a cocoon around spaces including the lobby atrium, where an open stair connects to a two-story social hub. Diplomatic offices are demarcated by a copper-clad timber hull that recalls Viking ships.

Sustainability—a tenet of the embassy’s mission—was a key project goal. Almost half the site is green space, planted with pollinator-friendly species. Bioretention planters and permeable pavements manage runoff, eliminating any burden to the Rock Creek watershed. Indoor water use is 25 percent less than baseline and thermal envelope upgrades abound.

Renovation Architecture: Steve White, FAIA, LEED AP, BD+C, Fentress Architects, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Whiting-Turner, Baltimore, Maryland. 

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