By Patrick C. Geraghty
Embassy Reykjavik’s team reveled in excitement as they gathered to dedicate their new embassy building, strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Iceland for generations to come, Oct. 20. Thanks to the Department of State’s Diplomacy Strong initiative, tireless work from the Embassy Reykjavik team, incredible leadership from the Bureaus of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) and Diplomatic Security, and many other great collaborators on the ground in Iceland, the ribbon-cutting ceremony marked a tremendous day. Although restrictions and concerns due to the novel coronavirus meant additional safeguards, with no infections at the embassy, the team was able to make great strides for America and protect Embassy Reykjavik’s personnel and staff.
Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and his partner, Heather J. Wilson, were joined on the stage virtually by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh, OBO Director Addison “Tad” Davis IV, and U.S. Navy 6th Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Gene Black. Through pre-recorded videos, each virtual speaker offered congratulations on opening the new embassy and highlighted the close relationship between the United States and Iceland.
Gunter expressed deep gratitude to OBO for their dedication and perseverance during the worst pandemic in modern history.
“This beautiful, Icelandic-designed building is a symbol of the U.S.-Icelandic friendship, which has never been stronger,” said Gunter. “Accomplished in the setting of COVID-19, we used the Diplomacy Strong framework to ensure we had no COVID-19 infections while launching a fully operational U.S. embassy.”
After his remarks, Gunter invited Embassy Reykjavik staff’s military veterans to raise the U.S. flag above the new building for the very first time.
The new embassy is an adaptive reuse of an existing, state-of-the-art building, offering a significant improvement over the previous facility, which had been in use for almost 70 years. The building renovation focused on creating consular and representational spaces that welcome Icelanders to the embassy while providing secure, flexible, modern, and fully accessible workspaces for embassy staff. The Nordic-inspired architecture incorporated elements meant to symbolize Iceland’s unique geology and its location as the intersection of two major tectonic plates.
Patrick C. Geraghty is the public affairs officer at Embassy Reykjavik.