《经济学人》:美国大使馆,挖壕筑壑
日期:2011-08-03 10:43

(单词翻译:单击)

America’s embassies
美国大使馆

First, dig your moat
挖壕筑壑

Designing buildings for America’s diplomats is getting ever trickier
为美国外交官员设计建筑变得愈加棘手

Jul 30th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition

“NOBODY can be messing with our embassy,” declared Barack Obama in mid-July, after a pro-government mob pelted America’s mission in Damascus with stones, eggs and tomatoes. That is not true, however, of the put-upon architects who have to design America’s embassies: they are constantly being hit with new restrictions, from both their own government and the host country.

“任何人都不能滋扰我们的大使馆,” 美国总统奥巴马七月中旬向外界如是宣布。此前,大马士革亲政府民众曾向美国大使馆投掷石头、鸡蛋和西红柿。然而对于那些受雇于美国,迫于无奈才设计美国大使馆的建筑师来说,他们可没这样的好运:他们经常因为本国政府和东道主国家施加的种种新限制而苦恼不已。

Ever since the bombing of the American embassy in Beirut in 1983, security has been the overarching concern when designing new embassies. Safety rules have been tightened repeatedly, and incorporated into a “standard embassy design” that dictates which offices should be adjacent to which (keep the bigwigs away from the public areas), how far embassy buildings should be set back from nearby roads (100 feet, or 30 metres), what materials can be used for walls and windows (nothing that is easy to climb or shatter) and so on. The result, critics say, is a dull series of near-identical, boxy bunkers. As John Kerry, who heads the Senate foreign-relations committee, put it in 2009, “We are building some of the ugliest embassies I’ve ever seen…I cringe when I see what we’re doing.”

自从美国驻贝鲁特大使馆在1983年发生爆炸事件以来,对于新使馆设计的安全性考虑向来是有过之而无不及。安全规则一再收紧并被纳入“标准使馆设计”——规定了各办公区的相邻性原则(政要办公区要远离公共区域)、使馆建筑距离附近公路应有的距离(100英尺或30米)和墙体和窗户所使用的材料(避免任何攀爬的可能性或可破坏性)等诸多因素。批评者认为,按此规则设计出的使馆不过是一系列单调得近乎相同、四四方方的掩体而已。正如参议院外交关系委员会主席约翰·克里2009年所言:“我们正在建造一些我见过的最丑陋的大使馆…每当见此情景我就深感厌恶”。

He is not alone. Londoners are less than thrilled by the thought of the “crystalline cube” that will slowly rise from the semi-gentrified riverine site of Nine Elms. This, at $1 billion the most expensive American embassy ever built, was made necessary when Grosvenor Square in Mayfair became too unsafe, despite the bomb-blast barriers that make the place look like a damper version of Baghdad.The new embassy will be separated from malicious sightseers by rolling parkland and a moat—100 feet wide, as required.

不只克里有此想法。伦敦人对于九号榆树巷半人工河处徐徐崛起的“水晶立方”建筑丝毫没有兴奋之感。尽管防炸弹爆炸障碍物使得新大使馆看上去象阴影笼罩的巴格达,但当梅费尔区格罗夫纳广场安全性无法保障时,花费10亿美元建造这座美国史上最昂贵的大使馆就显得很有必要了。通过种植草坪和挖掘100英尺宽(视需要而定)的护城河,有不良意图的观光客将无法接近这座新使馆。

Embassy architects argue that they are creative where the rules permit it. Thomas McCarthy of Page Southerland Page, a Texan firm which has designed 17 American diplomatic compounds, is very proud of the tributes to local tradition it incorporated into the embassy in Ouagadougou, for example, in the form of a shaded but open-air waiting area and a zigzag decorative motif on the external walls. But aesthetics and security are just two of a host of competing priorities.

大使馆的建筑师们表示,他们在规定允许的范围内充分地发挥了创造力。德州公司Page Southerland Page公司的托马斯·麦卡锡曾为美国设计过17座外交使馆建筑群。他为将当地传统融入到驻瓦加杜古大使馆建筑所做出的贡献感到自豪,比如,阴凉却露天的等候室和外部墙面曲折的绘画图案。但美学和安全性只是大量优先竞争因素中的两个而已。

The State Department insists on fixed prices and completion dates, with predetermined penalties for overruns. Yet conditions in the host country can be unpredictable to say the least. Page Southerland Page has had half a dozen projects interrupted by civil wars or terrorist scares. Even in places at peace, the obstacles can be hard to foresee: a dead tree on the site in Phnom Penh turned out to be revered by locals, forcing the design to be changed to preserve it; in Kigali, excavations for the foundations unearthed human remains; in Kiev the winters are so cold that it was hard to keep the concrete from freezing; and in Monrovia an arms embargo impeded the import of the explosives needed to blast away some awkward rocks.

美国国务院坚持固定的建筑成本和竣工日期,对预算超支或延期完工有预定的处罚。然而退一步说,东道主国家的局势是难以预知的。Page Southerland Page公司已经有六项建筑工程因内战或恐怖威胁而中断。即使在和平地区,有些障碍也是难以预料的:在柬埔寨金边市,为了保存一棵当地人所尊崇的死树,建筑师不得不更改建筑设计;在基加利,工人挖掘地基时出土了人类骸骨;在基辅,酷寒的冬天经常使混凝土冻结而无法使用;在蒙罗维亚,武器禁运阻碍了炸药的进口,使得一些棘手的岩石无法引爆清除。

It took six months for imported goods to get from Congo-Brazzaville’s main port to the embassy site in the interior, Mr McCarthy notes, but that was an improvement on the Sudan, where the government refused to issue certain import permits and visas at all. Yet ever more imported material and outside expertise is needed since Mr Obama began a recent drive to make government buildings, including embassies, more energy-efficient. And then there are America’s rules about procurement and contracting, with standards on everything from sustainability to labour relations. Think of it not as messing so much as digressing.

麦卡锡注意到,将进口货物由刚果主要港口布拉柴维尔运抵内陆的美国大使馆需要六个月时间。苏丹政府以前拒绝发放某些进口许可证及签证,但现在情况已有所好转。然而,由于奥巴马近期已将美大使馆在内的所有美国政府建筑纳入节能计划,美驻外大使馆建筑工地将会比以往更加需要进口材料和外援专业技术人员。美国有自己的一套采购和合同签订规则,并为可持续性到劳动关系的方方面面制定了标准。与其说它离题太远不如说它是一团糟。

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重点单词
  • securityn. 安全,防护措施,保证,抵押,债券,证券
  • diplomaticadj. 外交的,古字体的,老练的
  • procurementn. 取得,征购,斡旋,促成
  • shattern. 碎片,乱七八糟的状态 vt. 打碎,破掉,散开 v
  • aestheticsn. 美学,审美学
  • foreseev. 预见,预知
  • cuben. 立方体,立方 vt. 求 ... 的立方 adj.
  • cringev. 畏缩,谄媚,奉承 vi. 奉承,卑躬屈膝,畏缩,退
  • awkwardadj. 笨拙的,尴尬的,(设计)别扭的
  • moatn. 壕沟,护城河 vt. 将 ... 围以壕沟