Fentress Architects Reveals Design for Royal Norwegian Chancery in Washington, DC

Fentress recently received the required review and support from the Office of Foreign Mission Board of Zoning Adjustment to proceed with its design of the Royal Norwegian Chancery’s 30,000-square-foot expansion and renovation in northwest Washington, DC. The firm’s first embassy project, Fentress was selected in 2017 by Statsbygg—the Norwegian Directorate of Public Construction and Property—for its contextually-inventive design approach that will harmonize the entire Embassy of Norway campus and remain deferential to the surrounding environment. The new Chancery will act as the front door of Norway, offering a glimpse into Norwegian culture while providing a hospitable and professional environment for meetings, Consular services, and cultural exchange.

The Chancery, originally constructed in 1977, will pay homage to Norway’s rich history by focusing on architectural features that echo the country’s tradition of woodworking and shipbuilding; rich natural resources including copper, oil and gas, and fisheries; and warm hospitality. A Norwegian spruce mass timber structure with glazed walls for indoor-outdoor experience, Oppdal stone walls, a patinated copper mansard and entrance, and a restored garden linking the residence and Chancery are among the new design elements to complement the existing original fabric. Fentress’ is also upgrading the facility to be fully ADA accessible.

Quote from Steve White, Fentress Principal-in-Charge: “While providing significant functional, accessibility, and sustainability upgrades, our architecture will make Norway’s rich heritage visible on one of the most culturally significant streets in the United States and the world.”

Design Narrative

A new plaza court will graciously welcome visitors to the Embassy and Consulate. An at-grade entry will make the reception and Consulate accessible from street level, providing an approachable and welcoming entrance to the Embassy. The façade will blend architectural features with the building’s existing elements to represent a holistic fusion of contemporary architecture with neo-classical design. A curvilinear copper mansard roof will complement the building’s existing one-story rusticated limestone garden, and a roof comprised of a dynamic glue laminated timber structure will be made of Norwegian Spruce. A portal opening on the western façade will create a dignified, open, and transparent greeting and gesture of hospitality towards visitors to the Embassy. A limestone bookend on the northern end of the Embassy will create a distinctive edge between the diplomatic buildings and residential neighborhood while an expansive curtainwall system on the southern and eastern sides of the façade will maximize daylight and views to the garden with vertical wooden fins that will accentuate the curtainwall.