When the U.S. Dept. of State decided to upgrade its embassy in Dakar, Senegal, to meet modern security standards, the agency decided to build a fresh facility. The $148.6-million replacement compound proved to be easier said than done. For one, the new site required extensive earthwork to raise the land high enough to guard the embassy against nearby rainwater runoff.
The owner purchased 10 acres in Dakar and contracted with B.L. Harbert International LLC to build the new compound and open it on the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. First on the list of tasks was to import more than 110,000 cubic yards of structural fill, the nearest source of which was 45 miles away. Final grade was raised more than seven feet in some areas. A system of ditches and piping mitigated runoff on surrounding properties, and gray-water recycling was implemented to irrigate the compound.
In terms of safety, the contractor completed 5.1 million job hours without a lost-time incident. "In Senegal, this is a huge feat," said one judge.
Owner: U.S. Dept. of State, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
Design Architect: Yost Grube Hall Architecture, Portland, Ore.
Project Architect: Page, Arlington, Va.
General Contractor: B.L. Harbert International LLC, Birmingham, Ala.
Structural Engineer: Ehlert Bryan, McLean, Va.
MEP Engineer: H&A Architects and Engineers, Virginia Beach, Va.