When the United States started discussion of
constructing a new embassy in Yerevan in 2001,
the work initially caused a controversy among
society and mass media for two reasons. First:
the new embassy will be the largest U.S. Embassy
(in total real estate) worldwide. Secondly: Turks
(plus Bulgarians and Filipinos) were among the
laborers, but, in some specialities, Armenians
Armenians are included in the embassy construction
A backlash of bad press criticized the Yanks for importing labor into a country where so many natives can’t find work.
The Americans said they had good cause to hire
outsiders. Simply, the available Armenian labor
force was not trained in the skills required for
“At the beginning of the construction the embassy advertised vacancies for local construction workers but for some categories no one came,” said Kimberly G. Hargan, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy.
“The reason why JA Jones, the US Construction Company, took workers from third countries was that Armenians were not familiar with western construction techniques and were not acquainted with some specialties, such as American standards of electrical works, plumbing and others.”
In a bit of goodwill (and good public relations), the Americans decided to make jobs available to the locals by training them for such skilled labor.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Embassy designed a program for training of local laborers and invited experts from the United States and JA Jones Company to conduct training of the Armenians.
The training for different construction trades lasts three to four weeks, including a week of practical work. The schedule allows participants to be placed in jobs as quickly as possible.
Now, more than 600 employees are building the embassy, 400 of whom are Armenians.
“We think that once the new embassy is finished, people who were involved in construction and were trained according to western standards would be highly marketable,” Hargan said.
“We expect that with the continuing growth and improvement of the economy more western companies are interested in coming here and constructing hotels, office buildings . . . And Armenian constructors can apply their knowledge to the western construction sector in their native country.”
But there’s still plenty of work for the
embassy laborers. The project is scheduled to
be completed next March.
As for the need of the new embassy, Hargan said it was caused from the tremendous expansion of US relations with Armenia in recent years. He said dozens of sites were evaluated to find one that would best meet the needs of the U.S. and Armenian governments.
The current embassy on Bagramyan Avenue does
not meet US safety requirements and is small for
hosting staff. The new embassy compound is being
built to the highest engineering standards to
resist blast and earthquake.
The new embassy will contain a five-story Chancery
Building, USAID Building, two-story Marine Security
Guard Quarters, Warehouse, Main and Service Compound
Access Control Structures. It is located on the
edge of Yerevanyan Lake, a few kilometers outside
the city center on the road to Zvartnots International
The total space covers 90,469 square meters (22
American acres). It is the biggest lot on which
a US embassy has been built and its office space
will be among the largest for US embassies worldwide.
The United States bought the property from the
Government of Armenia for about $5 million.
The new embassy will not block citizen access
to the lake, which remains the property of the
Republic of Armenia.