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London's New US Embassy Nears Opening Date

Thursday, December 14, 2017

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The new United States embassy in London, designed with governmental principles and sustainability in mind, opened its doors to the press this week before its public debut in mid-January.

Project History

While renovation of the existing Embassy building in Grosvenor Square had been considered, the choice to instead build a new $1 billion structure came after it was determined that a new facility in London's Nine Elms neighborhood was the best route to meet Embassy goals.

The competition for the design was first announced in 2008, noted Architects Journal, and the focus called for something distinguished, that would reflect credit on the U.S. and “create goodwill by intelligent appreciation.” That same year, the U.S. purchased a site overlooking the River Thames for the project.

In 2009, a shortlist of four applicants were selected from 37 total, with Philadelphia-based architects KieranTimberlake taking the win in 2010.

Building Design

Architects Journal likened KieranTimberlake’s design to a translucent crystalline cube, which is intended to reflect transparency, equality and openness.

The building’s outer envelope is covered in ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) tensile kite-shaped forms; these are designed to both mitigate glare and prevent solar gain, while also ensuring building-wide uniform light distribution.

The entrance pavilion offers a consular entry for those visiting the Embassy seeking passports and other, similar documents; a main entrance for staff; and a service entry for related activities. The building also features a variety of interior gardens that are inspired by the United States’ different regions.

According to City A.M., the structure is a carbon negative glass building with a self-sufficient water system.

The Embassy receives 1,000 visitors daily, and employs 800 staff. The building is managed by Overseas Building Operations, and construction was funded by the sale of other U.S. government properties in London.

“We are proud to be putting down roots in Nine Elms,” said U.S. ambassador Matthew Barzun, at the ground-breaking. “And we’re proud to provide an anchor for more businesses and jobs, bringing thousands of new neighbours to fuel economic revitalisation here.”

The Embassy will be open to the public on Jan. 16, 2018.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Government; Green design; Sustainability

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