The Austrian Embassy
Up until the thirties the area surrounding the Austrian Embassy was part of the tradition of the borough of Tiergarten, a fashionable residential suburb and recreation area.
The detached urban villas, surrounded by gardens, and the now
densely built-up metropolitan center edging towards the West,
called for a flexible response from the architect.
The Austrian Embassy houses three functions: the consular department, the embassy offices, and the ambassador's residence. The three-part design constitutes sections which are pushed one into the other from outside in. The focal points of the pre-patinated copper ellipses visually signals the entryway.
Hollein has created an unusual mixture of an untamed individual building and a liberated peripheral street block./Michael Mönninger
On the exterior the sculptural curve of the building corner
overlays the basic figure of the ellipse and also shapes the design
of the two-story ambassador's office with a gallery mezzanine along
three walls and a large window opening up the Tiergarten panorama.
The building sections are made of different materials. The cubic
blocks are in stucco and stone while the contoured superstructure
is clad in copper.
The publicly accessible areas with visa and tourist offices are
located on the ground floor. Above it are the ambassador's and
departmental attachés' offices and reception spaces, and on the
third floor some apartments for embassy staff. The office wing
facing the busy Tiergartenstrasse protects the garden and also
provides security, which is important in an embassy building.
A three-story glazed loggia, with dining room on the ground floor and conference rooms and winter garden on the upper levels, was pushed back into the inner spandrel so that the slight straddle of consular and residential wings appear as a meaningful consequence of this exterior turned interior space.
Political officials will enter the building on the same level as the public, but from the other, northern, side of the building where the rectangular stone-box consular wing joins the copper-clad ellipse of the ambassadorial wing.
Here the stringency of the streets edge enclosure is attenuated:
the building recedes from the building line and follows the wide
dynamic curve of the central metal-clad structure. Facade and roof
merge to a sculptural form and its subdued opulence, as seen from
Tiergartenstrasse, visibly marks the beginning of the
representational part of the embassy building.
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Seattle, Washington, USA