You are here

Embassy and Chancery of Norway

-A A +A
1930–1931, John J. Whelan. 3401 Massachusetts Ave. NW
  • Embassy and Chancery of Norway (Franz Jantzen)

The composition and details of Whelan's fifteen-room ambassador's residence and original small chancery (six main rooms) recall the late phase of European Renaissance architecture that had the most significance for America, the English Georgian that flourished and was exported to the colonies throughout the eighteenth century. The English Georgian model spawned an even greater number and variety of American versions in the early twentieth century; the decision of several foreign governments to build their Washington embassies in an American style of architecture rather than one associated with their own national traditions bespeaks its wide-ranging success. The embassy's second story is the principal floor of the three-story, five-bay mansion, its prominence signified by tall windows topped by markedly sculptural triangular pediments supported by side consoles. So much emphasis is given to the middle layer that the broken segmental pediment above the entrance, set into a low rusticated basement, is pushed up into the field above, the only feature that deviates from a strict adherence to eighteenth-century rules. Whelan's unpretentious design, pleasing proportions, and well-executed details indicate why the style had such force for so long: following the rules produced very high quality architecture. In 1941, while the Norwegian government and royal family were in exile, a new wing was added on 34th Street. Its central hall was hung with murals transferred from the Norwegian Pavilion at the New York World's Fair.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Embassy and Chancery of Norway", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 386-388.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.