In 1954 the United States Department of State embarked on a bold embassy-building program that gave American architects a chance to play a new role as representatives of their country. In a major departure from precedent, the State Department appointed an architectural advisory panel of prominent architects to review all building plans for the Foreign Buildings Office (FBO). Under new guidelines, architects were challenged to produce schemes that would harmonize with differing local conditions, respect local customs, and respond to the historical uniqueness of each locale. At the same time, they were asked to create structures with a "distinguishable American flavor." To fit the local scene, but to be "American," to harmonize with the past, yet to be both workable and new-these were the design dilemmas inherent in the FBO building program. How architects approached these problems and how they managed to reconcile or not to reconcile the often conflicting demands of the program are the subject of this study. The design expressions reveal much about how the United States related to the world and how it viewed itself as well.

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