Thank you, Ambassador Peterson.
Good afternoon, Under Secretary Kennedy, His Royal Highness Prince Sihlangusemphi and other honored guests.
I am honored to be here representing the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (or OBO as we call the office in the State Department). On behalf of Director Lydia Muniz, I would like to thank you for joining us for this important ceremony.
I am delighted to celebrate the dedication of our new Embassy in Swaziland. This is my first trip to this beautiful country. This project began with a vision for a new Embassy that would incorporate important security requirements; co-locate the mission from multiple separate locations; convey our values of openness, sustainability, and excellence; and be responsive to the local environment, all while reflecting the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Swaziland.
The architectural firms of KCCT and Page, both from Washington, D.C. , turned that vision into a reality. Their design represents innovation, environmental sustainability, and a thoughtful consideration of the visitor experience. The design elements incorporate local materials such as wood paneling, stone façade, pavers, and fabricated timber roof structures.
The building meets all Department of State standards for life safety and security and will provide a secure, modern workplace for visitors and staff. In addition, the open office plan provides flexibility for collaboration.
Construction is a cooperative effort, and I am most appreciative of the dedication and teamwork displayed between B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama , OBO, the security staff, and our embassy colleagues. Approximately 1,250 American, local, and other workers were involved in the construction of the Embassy. I want to personally thank this team for its significant contribution to the Department’s portfolio.
To promote cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding, the Office of Art in Embassies has curated an art collection that includes thirty-four works of art — paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and mixed media pieces — by known and emerging contemporary artists from both the United States and Swaziland.
Together, the works create dialogues about identity, place, environment, and culture. Outdoors, you can see a monumental mosaic made of thousands of colorful stained and vitreous glass tiles. This collaborative piece was made by a U.S. artist and Fulbright scholar, and a team of Swazi artists. Like this new Embassy, it will be an important symbol of the enduring bond between the United States and Swaziland.
Most importantly, I’d like to thank you, Ambassador Peterson, and the Embassy staff for your tremendous support and patience as we worked to complete this project. I wish you all many successful years here.