SA Embassy in Washington DC has a striking new feature

a South African Embassy Photo - Eric TaylorAmong the more than 175 diplomatic missions in Washington, D.C., few stand out more than the South African Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue’s Embassy Row.  Marked by its iconic Nelson Mandela statue, the embassy’s twin Dutch Colonial buildings are now joined in the middle by a new glass atrium shaded with a striking Cambridge Architectural wire mesh façade.

The atrium is the centerpiece of architect Davis Brody Bond’s recent renovation of the embassy. Cambridge’s stainless steel screen, woven in the company’s triangular Shade pattern, covers the atrium’s exterior south-facing façade and wraps it in a continuous ribbon that carries under the front entrance as a ceiling as well.

The architect chose Cambridge mesh for its modern, woven appearance, solar shading characteristics and transparency.

“While giving respect to history, we used Cambridge mesh to help marry the two 1935 structures with a new progressive space and design,” said Robert Anderson, director for Davis Brody Bond’s Washington, D.C. office.

The atrium replaces the embassy’s former connecting bridge and open courtyard and expands its interior to include a pubic welcoming area, conference rooms and special events space.

The initial design concept called for bronze mesh panels but eventually evolved to the more modern stainless steel look.

“Visible from Massachusetts Ave., our mesh is the perfect architectural complement  to blend the beautiful limestone buildings and provide a backdrop that accents the Mandela statue,” said Ann Smith, Manager of Architectural Business Development for Cambridge Architectural.  “It’s also an effective screen for shading the south-facing façade and ceiling while allowing sufficient light to brighten the atrium.”

The mesh is wrapped around custom manufactured attachments (based on Cambridge’s Scroll attachment system) at the green roof level and front entrance ceiling.  It’s mounted off the glass to allow for a custom-designed window washing system.

Wire mesh continues on the inside of the atrium to accent the ceiling in the new open public area.  Large framed mesh panels are also installed as hinged ceiling panels for easy HVAC access.

Project Details:

Architect: Davis Brody Bond

Contractor:  Turner Construction

Completion Date: January 2014

Material:  T316 Stainless

Cambridge Pattern: Shade

Cambridge Attachment System:  Scroll


About Cambridge Architectural

Cambridge Architectural, a division of Cambridge International, is the most experienced full-service provider of sustainable architectural mesh systems for both interior and exterior building applications. As the world leader in tensioned mesh systems, Cambridge Architectural metal fabric solutions lend unique aesthetic appeal, functionality, affordability and sustainable benefits to a variety of structures interior and exterior. Cambridge Architectural offers full system design, engineering and collaboration from concept through installation – in the most challenging building environments and under the strictest budgets. Cambridge Architectural metal fabric systems are categorized by the primary applications they serve, including parking structures, exterior shades, facades, canopies, curtains and others. As a member of the United States Green Building Council, Cambridge Architectural is committed to promoting methods, technology and products resulting in environmentally responsible and healthy buildings. The Cambridge Architectural team develops systems that meet or exceed LEED requirements and provides consultation and direction on a project-by-project basis.  Visit for more information.

The "before" pic

The “before” pic

S  African Embassy Ceiling[2] Scroll Shade South African Embassy Install Photo

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