Everything you need to know about the new U.S. Consulate building

Move over, old building; there’s (about to be) a new U.S. Consulate in town.

By | Tue 19 Apr 2022

Since 1950, the United States has had a consulate in Chiang Mai, making it one of five countries to enjoy such a privilege. This long partnership was reaffirmed as blueprints for a new consulate building were finalised. Aiming to continue its commitment to the Thai people, the U.S. began construction on the new site in late 2020. 

Last month, the Consulate held a press briefing to share details about the new building, and its progress on education, security, environment, and public health issues. 

FAQ 1: Why the new location? 

The current building is a historical Lanna home, so it was not designed to be a workspace. According to General Consul Sean K. O’Neill, the new building will be safe, accessible, environmentally friendly, and more conducive to work. 

FAQ 2: Where will the new building be located?

The new building will be close to Index Living Mall, located along the super-highway. 

FAQ 3: What will the new building look like and include? 

The new building will marry traditional Lanna architecture with modern environmentally-friendly engineering. There will be a large sala for formal events and smaller salas for outdoor meeting spaces. All vegetation will be locally sourced.

The building will receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver Certification thanks to its green features, including a rainwater, greywater, and sewage water recycling system, energy-saving shading, and green roofs and solar panels. 

For people applying for visas and passports, there will be a new air-conditioned, mosquito-free waiting area — a considerable upgrade from the makeshift waiting space outside the current consulate building.

Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand.

FAQ 4: What is happening to the old location?

The Consul General may continue to live and host visitors at the current building, as there will not be housing for the Consul General on the new compound. 

FAQ 5: Why the high cost? 

The new building costs USD 284 million (THB 8.8 billion). Some line items include the purchase of the property, design and construction costs, and labour costs. The construction of the new building will employ 400 local workers with good wages and benefits. 

FAQ 6: When will the construction be completed? 

The building is targeted for a 2023 completion.

Courtesy of the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand.

Following the new building updates, General Consul Sean K. O’Neill emphasised the U.S.’s priorities in Thailand. There are four areas of focus: education, security, environment, and public health. 

On Education:

The U.S. Consulate is working with municipalities to bring bilingual English education to public schools, expanding access to English language education beyond private schools. 

On Security:

“We have helped Thai law enforcement throughout Northern Thailand to stop drug traffickers, human traffickers, and other international criminals who try to take advantage of Thailand’s borders.” – General Consul Sean K. O’Neill

On the Environment:

The U.S. has donated USD 100,000 (THB 3 million) to help address air pollution caused by forest fires. This includes supplying equipment to firefighters, donating air purifiers to schools, and using satellite technology to predict fire patterns.  

On Public Health: 

The U.S. has worked with Thailand for decades to research and develop cures against dengue fever, malaria, and now COVID-19. Most recently, the U.S. brought 2.5 million vaccines to Thailand.

Related Resources: New US Consulate General Ground-Breaking Ceremony