Discover Copper Online

Spring 1995

Copper says "Welcome" at Finnish Chancery

In time, the Finnish Chancery's bronze trellis will support foliage allowing its appearance to change with the seasons.

The new copper-and-bronze-laden Finnish Chancery in Washington, D.C., is becoming a must-see tourist attraction, according to Ambassador Jukka Valtassari. It's also enhancing Finnish diplomacy. "Competition for attention in Washington with its 160 embassies is very intense. Since we opened our new chancery 1 , people in power are now coming to us instead of our having to reach out to them," the Ambassador said proudly.

One of the first elements to impress observers is the chemically patinated bronze trellis covering the three stories facing Massachusetts Avenue, NW. In time, the Finnish Chancery's bronze trellis (shown in photo) will support vegetation so that its appearance will change with the seasons.

The trellis, the Ambassador's balcony, and nearly all the other bronze 2 elements were fabricated by Criss Brothers, Inc., of Bladensburg, Maryland. According to company president Philip Crisaldi, most of the copper used at the Finnish Chancery is alloy 22000, with a small amount of 26000. Crisaldi termed the $300,000-plus job, " . . . one of our toughest."

The Helsinki-based team of Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen rendered the Chancery's overall design. Details were developed by the Washington-based Angelos Demetriou & Associates, the associate and supervising architects. Project architect Faramarz Sabouri noted, "Finnish architects really like to work with copper."

As you tour the interior of the building, you will be struck by the copper-walled rooms suspended in the great atrium in the structure's middle. "Because of all the copper, the color of the walls changes in dramatic ways as the daylight shifts," says Ambassador Valtassari. Even the exposed underfloors of the suspended rooms are copper covered. The Ambassador notes that in a violent age when many embassies must be constructed like fortresses, the Finnish Chancery, wrapped in the warmth of copper and bronze, makes the opposite statement, "You are welcome!"

An estimated 50,000 pounds of copper sheet (cold-rolled C11000) were installed by Armetco Systems, Inc., Dallas, according to Gary Voth, former Armetco president. The cost of the 50,000 pounds of copper products was over $500,000. The total cost of the 51,000-square-foot building is about $10 million.

In addition to outstanding aesthetics, the Chancery also "functions very well," said the Ambassador. We asked for and got "standing space for 500 and an acoustic room for concerts that seats 150."

To make arrangements for a tour of the Finnish Chancery, call Ms. Marja Guercin at (202) 298-5824.

Copper work: Armeto Systems, Inc.: 214/243-7939
Bronze work: Criss Brothers, Inc.: 301/277-3454

1. Editor's Note: The building is not called an embassy, because the Ambassador does not live in it.

2. Editor's Note: Although these alloys are actually brasses, the architectural community traditionally refers to them as bronzes because of their reddish color.

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