SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Billion dollar US embassy opens in London

The new US embassy in London opened its doors to the public for the first time on Tuesday, a billion dollar glass mon...

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 9:42 AM
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 9:42 AM

The new US embassy in London opened its doors to the public for the first time on Tuesday, a billion dollar glass monolith presiding over a former industrial site south of the city.

With a $1 billion price tag, the embassy is not only one of the most expensive buildings of its kind in the world, but also perhaps one of the most notorious after US President Donald Trump last week said he was canceling a planned visit to London in part because of his proclaimed outrage over the cost.

The new embassy, a 12-story glass cube designed by Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake, will house around 800 staff and is expected to receive 1,000 visitors daily.

The building was paid for by selling other US government properties in London.

Melding security and style

The embassy occupies an almost five-acre site in an area that has been a focus of regeneration. Security requirements are tight -- it is set back 100 feet from the street and boasts a semi-circular pond as a security measure.

Read more: The pressures of designing a world-class embassy

Inside the glass monolith, tiny stars adorn the windows and internal gardens feature everything from cacti to ferns, in an homage to America's varied landscape.

Outside, the roof has been fitted with solar panels and a rainwater collection system for irrigation and flushing.

From concrete to glass

The new embassy is a world away from its current concrete home, designed by Finnish-American modernist architect Eero Saarinen.

The historic Mayfair site is now set to be converted into a luxury hotel by Qatari investors.

Trump criticizes deal

But don't expect any ribbon-cutting ceremonies from Trump, who last week tweeted his disapproval of what he described as the Obama administration's "bad deal" to sell the previous location in the high-end Mayfair district in central London and move to the former industrial site south of the River Thames.

In fact, the decision to move out of the Grosvenor Square building was taken under the Bush administration in 2008, principally because the building was proving harder to secure in an age of terrorist threats -- and also, in small part at least, because the US government did not wholly own it.

British property law historically allows the ground underneath buildings to be held by people and entities other than the owners of the bricks and mortar above. In this case, the land is owned by the Duke of Westminster, whose property empire controls much of the land in central London, and is leased back to the US at a nominal -- or "peppercorn" -- rent.

"In the end, we realized that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility," former US ambassador Robert Tuttle said of the decision to move.

Some members of the US Congress have also criticized the hefty price tag.

At a hearing in 2015, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and chairman of the House oversight committee, slammed the administration's construction process as mismanaged, resulting in a building with an "opulent-looking" glass facade that favored aesthetics over security.

However, architect James Timberlake told CNN the design met strict security requirements and the gleaming exterior was "one of the first glass embassies in the world," which conveyed an "open and welcoming" atmosphere.

A special relationship

Officials have touted the new embassy as a celebration of the special relationship between the US and UK. In December, touring the new site, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson boasted that Trump would like it. "We are looking forward to welcoming the President when he comes over here. I think he will be very impressed with this building and the people who occupy it," he said.

Unfortunately for Johnson and the embassy staff, Trump doesn't appear to see it in quite the same way.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 78160

Reported Deaths: 953
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18149245
Washington10929103
Marion9634147
Clackamas672781
Lane450747
Umatilla446850
Jackson401737
Deschutes251715
Malheur245945
Yamhill179717
Linn160023
Polk133219
Douglas98119
Klamath9265
Jefferson87411
Benton8457
Union8098
Morrow6717
Lincoln66515
Josephine5785
Wasco54319
Columbia5394
Coos4533
Hood River4303
Clatsop3730
Baker2914
Crook2446
Tillamook1470
Curry1462
Lake1431
Grant1381
Harney1041
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1265182

Reported Deaths: 19410
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4141857740
San Bernardino966571136
Riverside885301444
San Diego846381035
Orange805511578
Kern42614449
Fresno39004488
Sacramento38999586
Santa Clara35945486
Alameda30330520
San Joaquin26432510
Contra Costa24914261
Stanislaus22624430
Tulare21645312
Ventura20604185
Imperial16429356
Monterey15835123
San Francisco15797160
San Mateo14812170
Sonoma12662160
Merced12281182
Santa Barbara11631137
Kings1143489
Solano1095781
Marin7840129
Placer679471
Madera642786
San Luis Obispo634538
Shasta518750
Yolo502081
Santa Cruz463829
Butte419560
Sutter363719
Napa312418
El Dorado25814
Yuba222110
Lassen21823
San Benito196817
Tehama177326
Mendocino163223
Nevada141410
Tuolumne11049
Glenn98910
Lake97120
Humboldt9499
Colusa7476
Siskiyou7373
Amador66616
Mono5503
Calaveras54422
Del Norte3571
Inyo30816
Plumas2300
Trinity1680
Modoc1560
Mariposa1443
Alpine510
Sierra230
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 47°
Brookings
Overcast
51° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 51°
Crater Lake
Few Clouds
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 42°
Grants Pass
Broken Clouds
37° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 37°
Klamath Falls
Few Clouds
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 42°
Staying dry this week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events