United States officials broke ground on the new American embassy in London, designed by KieranTimberlake, on Wednesday.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Matthew W. Barzun, and director of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) Lydia Muniz broke ground on the project designed by Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake, which won out over 37 submissions in a design competition held by the state department. It is expected to be completed by 2017.
The new embassy, which is being constructed by B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Ala., is situated on a 4.9-acre lot in the Nine Elms Area, located on the Thames River less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament, an area that has experienced a transformation from an industrial district to a residential and business center. With new residences for an estimated 30,000 people, the region will include two new Tube stations and a new park.
The 54,000-square-meter (581,251-square-foot) building, which includes a consular section, support spaces, a U.S. Marine residence, and access pavilions, is designed to "enhance the urban fabric of London and demonstrate exceptional American architecture, technology, and sustainability," according to a U.S. Department of State press release.
The landscape design follows the English tradition of urban parks and gardens surrounding municipal buildings with limestone paving surrounding and within the embassy, similar to many London walks. The lot will include six interior gardens, an event lawn, and a pond. The project features a landscape without visible walls, or fences to open the interior space to the surrounding city yet conceal the required security barriers.
Environmental sustainability was a large factor in the design, including a goal of carbon neutrality, a self-sufficient water system, optimization of daylighting and occupant control of systems, with minimum goals for certifications of LEED Gold and BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent.
The embassy will feature artworks by contemporary artists from both the U.S. and the United Kingdom, representing a cross-cultural relationship. The theme for the art collection is "Poetry of Place."
The embassy will be constructed with the profits from the sale of other U.S. government property in the U.K., such as the former Chancery in Grosvenor Square. The U.S. Department of State has estimated that over 800 American and British workers will be involved in the Embassy's construction.