From "Glass Walls to Bunkers: The New Look of U.S. Embassies", by Michael J Lewis, published in The New York Times on July 27, 2003:
"An embassy can speak to the world of America's freedom and openness, its confidence and prosperity or, as with the Kenya Embassy, its fear. . ."
"Modern architecture hit its high-water mark during the 1950's, exalting clarity of form, flowing space and rational construction. Its essential element was the glass curtain wall, which enclosed space without closing it off. The cold war was also at a peak in the 50's, and the struggle was as much cultural as diplomatic. In the cold war embassy, politics and architecture combined to give the curtain wall geopolitical significance. Its openness and transparency made it an ideal metaphor for America, especially in opposition to the drab and bulky public buildings of Communism. On embassy rows around the world, the glass curtain confronted the Iron Curtain, rebuking its totalitarian opacity. To create these architectural cold warriors, the State Department enlisted virtually all of the nation's most celebrated architects. . ."
"Washington was stunned by the seizure of its embassy in Tehran in 1979, and the bombing of the Lebanon Embassy in 1983 (resulting in 63 deaths). In 1985, the State Department set up a commission to establish guidelines for building new embassies. The glass curtain wall was the first casualty. Window space was limited to 15 percent of the wall surface. Even more decisive were two other rules: buildings must be set back 100 feet from the street and set on at least 15 acres. The former rule severed a building's relationship to the street â€” a vital element considering its key purpose is to present America to a foreign culture. This rule also made it too expensive to buy downtown locations. In moving to the suburban compound, the embassy's traditional role as a civic building was discarded. As Jane C. Loeffler, the author of "The Architecture of Diplomacy: Building America's Embassies," said, "You can only make civic architecture in a civic situation." . . ."
"Americans have accepted these changes in part because they take place abroad. It may be different when they affect the central buildings of American political life at home. . . A human being communicates both consciously and unconsciously, through the conscious rhetoric of speech but also through the unconscious eloquence of body language. So it is with buildings. They can relax in an open stance of welcome, or huddle in a protective crouch. . . Important structures overseas and in Washington have just flinched."