U.S. Embassy in Cambodia
The United States established its first direct diplomatic relationship with Cambodia on June 29, 1950, with the appointment of Donald R. Heath as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Heath presented his credentials to King Sihanouk on July 11, 1950.
The US Legation opened in Phnom Penh on November 14. Operations were initially conducted from the renowned Hotel Le Royal until a Legation office and U.S. Information Service library were established in a new location.
The Legation was raised to Embassy status on June 25, 1952, at which point Heath became the first U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia.
Timeframe: The Embassy was completed several months ahead of schedule, a testament to the skill, professionalism and dedication of the Cambodian construction crew. It took nearly three years to complete the new Embassy, from initial design to final inspection. The USAID annex was completed by May 2006.
Environmentally friendly: The infrastructure includes a high-tech system to clean and recycle the Embassy’s wastewater for lawn irrigation.
Concrete: 15,600 cubic meters of concrete were used in the Embassy’s construction, enough to fill 7 Olympic-size pools.
Historical Context: The U.S. has had embassies situated in no fewer than five different temporary locations. (NOTE: The first U.S. Mission to Cambodia was opened on November 14, 1950 in the Le Royal Hotel.) The new Embassy is the first permanent Embassy built and owned by the U.S. in Cambodia ever. As such, it is a symbol of our commitment to our future relations with Cambodia and to the freedom, prosperity and security of the Cambodian people.
Design: The Embassy is one of the first new U.S. Embassies based on post-9/11 standards. This Embassy has the highest technical security features of any U.S. Embassy in Asia and, at the same time, has been designed to be open and welcoming to Cambodian and American guests alike. The Embassy is based on the new Standard Embassy Design (SED) on which all future U.S. Embassies will be based. This is one of the first of the current crop of about 12 new SEDs to open its doors.
Size: The new Embassy compound covers an area of 6.2 acres (2.5 hectares). The chancery has approximately 8,000 square meters of floor space.
Rebar: 2,191 tons of rebar and 4,896 square meters of wire mesh were used in the Embassy’s construction. The wire mesh alone is enough to cover more than 1 U.S.-size football field.
Man-hours: Nearly 3,000,000 man-hours were logged during the construction of the new Embassy, with an average of 366 direct and indirect workforce onsite each day. More than 1,500 local workers were employed over the course of the construction process.
Artwork: The new chancery boasts a collection of over 100 pieces of original art by U.S. and Cambodian artists. Textiles, photographs, carved wood, oil paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints grace the walls, offices, lobbies and dining room.
Quality: Our construction experts have affirmed that the quality of construction carried out by the Cambodian workers for this state of the art building is of the highest quality of any of our new embassies anywhere in the world. Indeed, it is no surprise since Cambodians have been the architects of some of the greatest temples anywhere in the world as well as modern architectural masterpieces of the 1950s and 1960s.
Nutritional: Workers consumed more than 55,000 kilograms of meat, 110,000 kilograms of rice and vegetables, and 185,000 liters of bottled water over the course of the project.
Human Relations: Along the way, the new embassy has not only built closer relations between Cambodia and the U.S., but also resulted in five marriages between American workers and Cambodian citizens and at least three Cambodian-American offspring. Perhaps the most interesting story is of one American worker nicknamed “Gravy” who married the Cambodian cook of his favorite restaurant. That is a match made in culinary heaven.See more