You might be hearing about the U.S. embassy in London in the news today. In the late 1950s, Eero Saarinen designed London’s first purpose-built embassy for the U.S. (It was the Finnish-American architect’s only work in the United Kingdom.)
Located in Grosvenor Square, the nine-story American Embassy London Chancery Building opened in 1960. But half a century later, the embassy had outgrown its original digs. Retrofitting the diplomatic mission with modern security measures would have been impossible, so in 2008, President George W. Bush announced that it would move.
Philadelphia-based architecture practice KieranTimberlake won the State Department-sponsored competition for new designs in 2010, and the project broke ground in 2013. It was recently completed in the Nine Elms district of the capital city and officially opens next month.
The firm envisioned a new site that would embody transparency, openness, and equality, while simultaneously being welcoming, secure, and highly sustainable. The result is a 12-story transparent glass cube that features a screen of faceted solar shading and solar paneling installed on the roof. It is set atop a colonnade, and a public park with a pond, walkways, seating, and landscaping surrounds it at the edge of the Thames River. Quite lovely in our opinion.