Posts Tagged ‘US embassy’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on March 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Filed under: architecture, featuredarticle, News, US embassy

London gets a new US Embassy

Grosvenor Square has been the home of the US Embassy to the UK for 50 years. But now, the embassy is moving from the West End to Battersea.

The current American embassy: very modernist, not very modern

The new embassy looks quite startlingly modern; it’s a glass cube, set among landscaped gardens, which both provide a beautiful environment, and enhance security (earthen banks are designed to withstand explosive blasts of some force).  It’s also a carbon neutral building, using modern building technologies to make it sustainable.

It was designed by architectural firm Kieran Timberlake, which has specialised in sustainable architecture. There will be photovoltaic cells on the roof, and the glass-polymer skin will help to diffuse excessive heat on sunny days.

Building will begin in 2013, and the new embassy should be ready for use in 2017.

It certainly looks a lot friendlier than the existing embassy, a building of 1960 by Eemo Saarinen which dominates one side of Grosvenor Square with its rather brutal horizontal mass. There’s a feeling of openness about it that contrasts with the rather bunker-like feeling of many recent US embassies, and the sprouting security gates and fences around some of the older ones.

And I suppose the move to Battersea is forced. Even though the US government can probably afford it, really large sites in central London are as rare as hen’s teeth; possibly rarer. Even so, I can’t help feeling it’s going to make life that little bit trickier for many people, since getting to the Embassy will involve coming into central London and then going right back out again. Hopefully by the time the new embassy opens, London might have more effective public transport…

Photo  by Matt from London on flickr

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