C&G Partners developed a comprehensive site and interior signage and wayfinding program for the U.S. Embassy in London. Responsible for embassy branding, experiential graphics and interpretive design, the studio strove to create a particular poetry of place in a manner that a welcoming American emissary might employ.
The concept of “poetry of place” was developed to accommodate functional needs with messages of openness and American culture. At the doorstep, the studio juxtaposed the solidity of “Embassy of the United States” in bronze inset in granite adjacent to a waterfall and symbolic pond. In the reception area, the notion of “poetry of place” is expressed with a monolithic country seal that crowns the intimately chiseled names of ministers and U.S. ambassadors to the U.K.
The concept surfaces inside and out, with poignant iconic quotes from Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and others embedded in exterior stone paving and carved into interior limestone walls and flooring. The identification sign was coordinated directly with the granite wall and fountain, with each stone matching the letter in the same fashion as historic metal typography that created documents like the Declaration of Independence broadsides.
The greatest challenge was balancing the functional needs of a foreign diplomatic outpost with overtures to openness and inspirational American culture. The U.S. State Department construction protocol limits oversight. The Embassy commission also took many years to realize; C&G was brought in early and periodically re-engaged when input on experiential graphics and signage was needed.
Keith Helmetag (partner-in-charge), Amy Siegel (partner, lead sign designer)
Kieran Timberlake Architects, Olin Landscape Architects