U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo, Mexico

U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo, Mexico

Hermosillo, Mexico

American Consulates are a representation of the relationship between two countries. They exist to support the diplomatic mission and project the values of the United States, while respecting the culture of the host country and community in which they reside. The Consulate General of The United States in Hermosillo, Mexico strikes this balance between national presence and cultural respect, with design that integrates diplomacy and sustainability in an artful way.

A broad challenge for the project was designing a secure diplomatic compound within a predominantly residential setting; the site set amongst upscale housing developments with homes directly adjacent on 3 sides. Thoughtful planning and design solutions respect the privacy of neighboring residents without compromising the security and function of the Consulate compound with special considerations given to scale, building location, views, lighting, and acoustics, in response to initial concerns from its future neighbors.

The hallmark of the project is a 2 story multi-purpose external façade structure. The “armature” clad in patinated zinc is a contrasting overlay on the simply articulated base building faced in white pre-cast concrete panels. The open orthogonal structure and angular perforated infill panels compose a purposeful, yet artful identity for the centerpiece building and an architectural language for the compound. Extending from the 4 story Chancery building the armature draws focus to its mid-section, reducing its mass as perceived from the residential surroundings. Within the framework, infill panels are positioned to edit outward views, screening those to adjacent residences where privacy is warranted and framing desirable ones to the surrounding city and mountains. Tensioned fabric at the top side of the armature structure provides additional shading for the building envelope to manage solar gain and glare improving performance and maximizing usable daylight for interior spaces. Cantilevered from the N. and S. faces of the Chancery, the armature is column supported at its E. and W. ends projecting significantly deeper over the main and consular entries as a receptive shade canopy above gardens and plaza spaces used for staging and public outreach events. The diplomatic gesture of shade is consistently crucial to providing a comfortable experience for visitors in the desert climate. At the Chancery interior the armature structure and panels are repeated to define balcony edges and walkways overlooking the 3 story interior common space.

The effects of water scarcity in Hermosillo can be seen throughout the city as greenspaces slowly succumb to prolonged draught. Recognizing water conservation as a priority,  a compound landscape of native and adapted plantings, irrigated by captured rainwater, reduces water consumption and projects restraint. Prolific use of desert shade trees combined with architectural strategies provide comforting shade and foster a microclimate surrounding the building, reducing heat island effect.

Project facts

Design Architect:  Richärd Kennedy Architects

Associate Architect: HGA

Local Architect: Carte Arquitectos

Client:  U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations

Size:  113,785 SF

Project Type:  Civic + Public

Services:  Architecture, Interior Design

Delivery Method:  Design-Build with Bridging Documents

General Contractor:  BL Harbert International

Design MEP Engineer:  ARUP

Design Structural Engineer:  ARUP

Civil Engineer: AST Cowen Design Group

Landscape Design Architect:  OLIN

Certification:  LEED Silver Certified

Press & Awards

2023 – Architectural Products, "The Consulate Architect" Volume 21, January/February 2023, p. 28-33

2022 – The Chicago Athenaeum, American Architecture Award in the Government/Civic Buildings Category

2020 – AIA WMR Design Excellence, Merit Award, Unbuilt


Inspiration was derived from traditional public buildings throughout Mexico; simply massed buildings featuring openings celebrated with an additive balcony, accompanying railing, and shade canopy as simple embellishment, often showcasing local artistry in the form of decorative ironwork. The building typology contains internal courtyards or atria, simple massing rendered in white stucco, stone, iron, and glass. Accents of color and iconic frescos found throughout the city are reinterpreted in the new consulate through commissioned art pieces. The armature, a reinterpretation of the balcony as a scalar shading element, provides for the articulation of shade and shadow. The openings and screens within the armature provide protection from the sun, shade for the ground plane, and selectively edit views.

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