Embassy of Hungary
As part of a design-build partnership with Hungarian contractor Mega-logistic, Ltd., KCCT designed the conversion of the Broadhead-Bell-Morton Mansion—a four-story historic property formerly inhabited by Alexander Graham Bell and listed on the DC Inventory and National Register of Historic Places—into use as the Embassy of Hungary. The building was originally constructed in 1887 in the Queen Anne style and reenvisioned by John Russell Pope in 1912 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. This highly unique project successfully repurposed a historic building while meeting the challenging security requirements inherent to an embassy.
The new design created appropriate representational spaces through restoration and preservation of the building exterior and significant interior spaces that contribute to the historic character of the property. Following an unplanned lead abatement, the interior of the building required a complete replacement of infrastructure, with energy performance requirements that meet or exceed stringent DC Energy codes. Historically significant spaces were restored or enhanced as part of the historic preservation initiatives aligned with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards of Historic Properties.
Interior accessibility was critical for compliance with the Embassy's open-access policy and local standards for accessibility. Innovative integration and pathway approaches were implemented through the building to maintain and accentuate the historic representational spaces, including a new elevator extending from the sub-basement to the fourth floor of the building. As part of the interior restoration, the project included life safety improvements.
Site restoration provided secure but inviting outdoor spaces using permeable paving for dual uses of parking and outdoor social activities. New exterior additions to the property include perimeter fences and screen walls contrasting with the historic fabric. The additions feature stainless steel and exposed concrete, textured with historic organic Hungarian patterns.
The renovation of the building exterior retained the original character of the 1912 era through the replacement of windows with original proportions and energy-efficient performance. The roof sight lines were enhanced to highlight the original mansard roof by eliminating or greatly reducing the utilities added over the years. The cultural arts of Hungarian society are expressed in a wall that conceals an existing fire escape, and the addition of a platform lift designed into the facade both minimizes the change in appearance and complies with accessibility standards.
This project falls under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Missions Board of Zoning Adjustment, which is the zoning approving authority for foreign properties in Washington, DC. KCCT also supported close coordination with the DC Office of Planning, the DC Historic Preservation Office, the District Department of Transportation, the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and the US Department of State.
Site development strategy for this project centered around the creation of a protected area through a perimeter fence sensitive to the historic character of the surrounding buildings and neighborhood. The landscaping concept reinforces the prominent spaces of the porte cochere and maintains a circulation axis.
Secondary spaces utilized for parking and services are defined by semipervious pavers to create volume and depth. The site was designed to retain 100% of the rainwater captured with the intent to reuse, and the existing treescape of the aligning public space was protected and retained.
Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
• Historic Preservation
• Construction Administration
• Interior Design