Sean Baxter

Sean Baxter

Ann Arbor, MI, US



Gift of Legation:

Embassy architecture is steeped in layers of rhetorical demands and physical constraints other projects don’t usually encounter. The embassy is an institutional building representing the interests and values of one sovereign nation within the territory of another. This places enormous amounts of pressure on making contextual sensitivity coexist with symbollic representation of the foreign.

My thesis project poses the question of whether architectural innovation can be a catalyst for changes in the diplomatic process itself and how would an architecture, intent on manipulating the way embassy buildings construct relationships with their local communities and environments manifest itself?

Through research and design of a new embassy in Morocco, I wished to wade into the heavily trafficked controversy over the paradox of architecture that simultaneously strives to symbolize the rhetorical strength of the American values of openess and democracy while increasingly seeking to further insolate its foreign civilian work force from the lethal dangers they face as a result of the response to their controversial policies.


For this project, I wished that the embassy not only not be a bunker, but also that it be an object that lends itself to the support of a respectful, optimistic, projective idea for the local population who view the embassy and possibly utilize the services it provides. The title “Gift of Legation” suggests the idea that embassy estabishment is not an entitlement but actually an invitation. One nation is admitted into another for the purpose of developing a bond that benefits both parties, and the architecture built for the purpose of maintaining that bond should reflect that attitude.

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Status: School Project
Location: Rabat, Morocco