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"Faith in a Better Future": Josep Lluis Sert's American Embassy in Baghdad

Samuel Isenstadt
Journal of Architectural Education (1984-)
Vol. 50, No. 3 (Feb., 1997), pp. 172-188
DOI: 10.2307/1425469
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1425469
Page Count: 17
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"Faith in a Better Future": Josep Lluis Sert's American Embassy in Baghdad
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Abstract

The following essay considers Josep Lluis Sert's American Embassy in Baghdad (1955-1961) as an attempt to project a new basis for American political influence abroad that was compatible with a rapidly changing postcolonial world. Although the United States began its program of embassy construction to accord with its new role as a world power, the government required architects to be sensitive to local conditions of the site and the host country. In Iraq, this meant distinguishing America from both a rival Soviet Union and from England, America's ally but increasingly despised by Iraqis for its uninvited sway over their government, as well as addressing questions of climate and local construction capacities. To negotiate political complexities of the cold war and to balance American ambitions with local conditions, Sert drew on a modernism that was itself in the process of transition due in part to its application to a broader range of building types and social tasks, of which the embassy program is an instance, and in part to the representational pressures such institutional patronage entails.

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