The new U.S. Consulate General in Milan revives the site’s architectural and historic legacy as a secure, functional, and resilient project — in tribute to the close collaboration of the United States and Italy. Managed by the Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), the approximately 10-acre campus will provide a modern platform for U.S. diplomacy in Milan and across northern Italy. In addition to the new Consulate building, the project includes restoration of the historic Liberty Building on the Consulate site and reconstruction of a pavilion on the parade ground. SHoP Architects of New York is the architect and Caddell Construction Company LCC of Montgomery, Alabama is the contractor.
The Tiro a Segno campus will become a place for Italians and Americans to collaborate with space for exhibitions, to host visitors, and to celebrate local history. The site improvements will include large areas of open space and a restoration of the garden at the forecourt of the Liberty Building. This unique campus will allow for greater engagement within the city and its environs. The restoration and design has involved multiple partnerships with local experts in historic architecture and culture that helped to form the plans for the building and its restoration. Direct local investment is estimated at over $65 million with at least 500 locally employed construction workers.
Design & Construction
The site reﬂects its history as a communal space, drawing people in and promoting a natural ﬂow of movement centered around encouraging social engagement and inclusion. The triangular Liberty Plaza features a welcoming public garden that orients visitors to the the Liberty Building. Once through the arches of the Liberty Building, the site progresses to the nearly 80,000-square-foot Parade Ground —historically the main gathering place for events — with the reconstructed Pavilion in front of the chancery building. The chancery is formed of two volumes: a ﬁve-story tower atop a plinth. For anyone approaching, the consular garden, the historic Pavilion and Parade Ground offer an immediate sense of context for the new building, while leading them to the building’s entrance.
Overall, the design celebrates the materiality of Italian architecture, using a mix of modern and historic methods and materials. The façade is an intricate framework of digitally-processed and -fabricated stone panels in a warm cream color, a reference to the buildings at the historic-center and piazzas of Milan and other Italian cities. The panels gradate from transparent to solid, with a depth of texture that is deepest at the base and recedes as it climbs the façade. The effect evokes a rusticated, relatively rougher-surfaced base that transforms to a precise edge that meets the sky. The coloring picks up the earthy hues of the terracotta roofs and wood columns of the Pavilion and the Liberty Building. The overall effect is timeless, presenting a functional, efﬁcient face that references the classical elements around it.
Inside, a variety of effective working and meeting spaces present a similar mix of past inspiration and present-day innovation. The materials are inherently Milanese, inspired by traditional materials that are reimagined with new patterns and assembly. A reception area beyond the main lobby features a milled stone counter with a unique multicolor marble that contrasts and complements the wall panels, which in turn echo the façade panels. Adjacent to reception is a large, double-curved stairwell that sweeps and tapers as it moves up. Designed as the main circulation method, it is a statement in quality of craft, reﬁned detail, and thoughtful proportion that draws people to the gallery above, a triple-height space with panoramic site views. The consular waiting area continues the use of large-format marble panels and a rich wood plank ceiling that references the historic canopies outside. Visitors are welcomed into consular booths that instill a sense of security and privacy, lined in deep green, sound-absorbing soft velvet ribbed panels with Italian green marble wainscotting.
A true 21st-century center for practicing American diplomacy, the new Consulate General campus is an expression of globally inﬂuenced design that celebrates and advances local tradition. It will serve as an enduring testament to cross- cultural collaboration—not only between two countries, but also to honor all of the places where exceptional individuals met throughout history, and will continue to meet into the future.
Stewardship & Resiliency
One of OBO’s primary goals for each project is natural resource stewardship in concert with resilient design. Working in collaboration across disciplines, the result is a design that provides for lower energy costs, reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, increased security, and resiliency strategies that advance the shared goal of the United States and Italy to augment renewable energy usage. The project is registered with LEED® – a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices – and has a goal of Gold certification.
With the careful coordination of design, engineering, and the geothermal system, almost zero heating energy from hydrocarbon fuels will be required. The ground-source system provides the heating and cooling services, with processed water stored for site irrigation or reinjected to the ground water aquifer. This geothermal system will be “open loop,” as is the practice in Milan but a first for OBO. A central plant heating/cooling system is provided with a modular water-source heat pump that utilizes the open-loop geothermal wells. The modular water-source heat pump provides simultaneous heating and cooling, utilizing the heat rejected from the cooling process to generate hot water. The hot water produced is utilized for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) hot water and for preheat for the domestic hot water system, which also incorporates water-source heat pumps at each building.
Solar and ground-sourced heat — geothermal energy coupled with photovoltaic panel arrays — are combined with a variety of water and energy conservation methods to save 43 percent of annual energy costs. The efficient building envelope (with a window-to-wall ratio of 25 percent) will prevent heat gain while allowing in daylight. LED lighting offers sophisticated occupancy sensors and daylighting controls. The air systems feature demand-controlled ventilation, enhanced filtration for ensuring high quality indoor air, and dynamic pressure and temperature resets. Stormwater will be controlled via bioretention facilities and stormwater vaults to prevent runoff from inundating the city’s sewers; the captured water will be reused for irrigation.
The project is registered with LEED® – a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices – and has a goal of Gold certification.
The permanent art collection, curated by OBO’s Office of Art in Embassies, will include art in a variety of media, including painting, photography, beadwork, and sculpture by both U.S. and Italian artists. The collection will seek to create a dialogue of shared values between the people of our two countries. Highlights will include two site specific sculptures: an outdoor work by Beverly Pepper, an acclaimed American artist and pioneering figure in monumental metal sculpture, and an interior sculpture by the Haas Brothers, who work at the nexus of art and design.