Architect: Harry Weese. Sturctural Engineer: Frank J. Kornacker and Associates; Mechanical Engineer: Kravolec and Best
Commission / Completion details
Commission: 1955 (c) / Completed: 1958 (c) / Dedication: February 12, 1959 (e) / Closure: August 31, 1998 (c)
The architectural advisory board of the US State Department's Office of Foreign Buildings Operations (FBO) awarded Harry Weese the commission for the consulate in Ghana in 1955. In 1957 the status of the consulate changed to an embassy after Ghana became an independent sovereign state. Construction of the 8,000 square foot embassy was completed in 1958, the dedication occurred a year later in 1959.
Architect Harry Weese began his design process by visiting Ghana and being inspired by the traditional architectural style. The Wa Na houses in Northern Ghana, which had tapered buttresses supporting a horizontal mud-brick structure, highly influenced Weese so much that he designed the embassy as an inverted Wa Na house. The embassy structure consisted of a main floor elevated on concrete columns and an opened ground floor, connected to each other by an open double staircase. Visible from the outside were white columns that tapered from the roof to the ground, going from 16 inches at the midpoint to 6 inches at the ground and roof points. On the ground points, the columns rested on pins that allowed for movement during high winds and earthquakes. Weese designed the walls out of mahogany louvers, allowing for ventilation of the main floor and light reduction. The roof overhanged so as to protect the building from sun and rain. The main floor plan was a square with an inner square courtyard surrounded by offices. Weese didn’t include much ornamentation besides the Great Seal of the United States on all four exterior walls. The embassy won a series of awards including an Honor Award for Architectural Installations for the use of native mahogany. During the 1970’s, after a series of violent acts, the FBO asked Weese to redesign the embassy. After finding no plausible solution for a safer embassy, the building was finally closed in 1998.
Architect Harry Weese took into account the climate in Ghana for his design of the US Embassy. Weese made sure to use local materials and incorporate the local architectural style versus the modern concrete box designs being erected. He took into account the hot climate by overhanging the roof and having operable louvers.