Beijing is the location for the second largest U.S. Embassy building at a staggering 600,000 square feet and at a reported cost of $550M in building expenses by the San Francisco firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. While notable American and Chinese contemporary artists like Jeff Koons, Cai Guo-Qiang, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, Betty Woodman, Martin Puryear, Maya Lin, Yun-Fei Ji, and Hai Bo have produced some remarkable creations to be displayed on the grounds.
Here is Art Observed’s article, no wonder the US Embassy have been put under scrutiny for this move… “The U.S. spent $800,000 for the works on display, the highest ever for an embassy building. Other pieces were donated. However, with many new constructions adopting a “percent for art” rule, meaning 1% of the budget goes towards art, the U.S. Embassy has been criticized for spending a paltry 0.14%. Another concern is that the public will not be able to easily view the works due to walls surrounding the compound for security reasons.
Jeff Koons’ sculpture, Tulips, crafted to look like wilting mylar balloons of flowers graces the outdoor pond area of the consular building. It is on loan to the embassy from the artist for the next decade. Landscape artist Maya-Lin has also created a lobby installation, Pin-River Yangtze, which uses 30,000 straight pins to outline the important Chinese river. In the Atrium Office building is Cai Guo-Qiang’s gunpowder drawing, Eagle Landing on the Pine Branch. The work by the major Chinese artist might represent the two countries’ gelling partnership – the eagle and pine tree are commonly recognized symbols in both the United States and China.”