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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The U. S. Yellow and White House

When the scaffolding came down, a beauty emerged.


After a year-long makeover, the old American Embassy building has reappeared as a freshly painted yellow and white structure that at last lives up to many of its architecturally grand Garden Ring neighbors and makes a vivid contrast to the blackened White House around the corner.


A U. S. official involved in the restoration said the project entailed major repairs on the building's exterior, particularly the stucco walls, which were literally peeling away from the building's structure. Work was also done to restore the beauty of the balconies, cornices and ornamental details. The building is located on the Novinsky Bulvar section of the Garden Ring.


The roof of the building's central wing was completely replaced, as were many of the floors throughout the building. Last but not least, each of the building's 575 windows was replaced. The final stage of the restoration, landscaping work, is scheduled to begin on the embassy grounds next spring.


Although a year under scaffolding was a long time for many American officials to wait, repair work was done at a remarkable pace in comparison with many Moscow buildings, which often seem to be in the process of being repaired for years.


"A project like this could normally run two years in most places, and three to four years in Moscow because of the weather", the official said. "We got this done in record time".


Such efficiency could be due to the fact that the United States, embarrassed by a long string of fiascos involving its diplomatic buildings in Russia, was in a hurry to resolve questions of working space as quickly as possible.


The red brick new Embassy compound, located behind the older building, has been a thorn in U. S. official's side since construction was halted eight years ago when it was discovered that the building, composed of American materials but being built by Russian workers, was riddled with listening devices that rendered the space unusable.


Parts of the new compound were acceptable for living and recreation space, but when a 1991 fire in the old Embassy building destroyed many of the offices there, officials were forced to set up temporary working space in the new building. Many embassy offices have been in the process of moving back into the old building since Oct. 7, when construction was officially completed.


U. S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering is expected to move his office to the restored building later in the month.


An upcoming visit by Secretary of State Warren Christopher at the end of October may be marked by a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the building, although the official was uncertain if such plans would be carried out.


The construction, arranged by the Bechtel International contracting company, was carried out entirely by American workers, a stipulation provided by President Boris Yeltsin as compensation for the loss of the new embassy compound working space.


"We had roughly 35 people working - plasterers, carpenters, painters and restoration experts", the official said. "All the materials used were American-made. We even went so far as to match the paint we were using exactly to the paint that was already on the building".