Islamabad: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Wednesday (November 16, 2011) formally approved the building plans and granted the permission for the construction of new building of the embassy of the United States of America in Islamabad.

According to the sources in the CDA, the ‘Design Vetting Committee for Approval of Building Plans in Islamabad’ in its meeting held Wednesday at the CDA Headquarters approved in principal the design for the new embassy compound and housing project of the United States of America, in Diplomatic Enclave, Sector G-5.

The meeting was chaired by the Member (Planning & Design), Tahir Shamshad, and participated by the deputy director general Building Control, the representative of Planning, Emergency and Disaster Management and architecture as well as the members nominated by Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners.

When contacted, the spokesman for the CDA, the Deputy Director (Protocol and Public Relations), Ramzan Sajid, told ‘The News’ that the approval has been granted by the 11-member committee headed by the Member (Planning & Design), Tahir Shamshad in its meeting held Wednesday.

He disclosed that the total size of the plot for the US Embassy in Islamabad is 208,418 sq yards and the proposed covered area is 1,734,212 sq feet, which include the ground plus seven (7) stories accommodating the embassy, the residences, offices and the recreational buildings. “The committee that has given the approval of the building construction plans is satisfied with various features presented in the construction plans, which include the energy efficient design with the facilities of rain water harvesting, sewage treatment plant,” he said.

He said that the CDA has also laid down the conditions that the old building should be demolished in phases and new one constructed in the same manner.

According to the information available through CDA sources, the US State Department has begun building anew in Islamabad. The New Embassy Compound (NEC) will replace all existing facilities and infrastructure on current embassy ground in the same location of the current embassy.

The State Department of the US is quoted to have said that the construction of this new embassy building reflects the importance of bilateral relationships between the United States of America and Pakistan and manifest the commitment of the US to comprehensive and sustained engagement and partnership with the people and government of Pakistan. The US Embassy will maintain all operations throughout the 6 years construction project.

According to the US State Department the new embassy compound will provide attractive functional and secure facilities for embassy employees and the US, Pakistanis and the third country citizens who use embassy services including visa applicants. The two-phase construction programme will also provide construction and related jobs for thousands of Pakistani workers, the US State Department was quoted as saying. It was learnt that the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OBO), managed by the US Department of State, the contract for design and building the new embassy compound was awarded to M/s B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama, USA on September 30, 2010. The project is scheduled to be completed by June, 2017.

According to the Overseas Building Operations, (OBO), the planning, design and execution of the NEC project includes consideration of the criteria that is focused upon: Importance of bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan; Safety and security of mission employees and visitors; Design excellence; Cost management over the life cycle of new facility; Environmental factors, leadership in energy and environmental design; Project quality, cost and schedule; Coordination of the large multi-phase project within in an operational embassy and Construction, logistics management including site and transportation security.