Future US embassy in Britain a 'timeless' vision in glass

Relax News
Saturday 27 February 2010 01:00

The United States announced Tuesday that it has chosen a cutting-edge, energy-efficient design by acclaimed US architecture firm KieranTimberlake for its future embassy in Britain.

The building, a towering glass cube covered with a thin sheath of photo-voltaic cells "met the goal of creating a modern, welcoming, timeless, safe and energy-efficient embassy for the 21st century," the State Department said.

"The concept holds the greatest potential for developing a truly iconic embassy and is on the leading edge of sustainable design."

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based firm, founded in 1984, has made its mark in the architecture world with designs that aim to mesh inventive design with a sense of place and a focus on environmental sustainability.

The US embassy's existing building, located in central London's Grosvenor Square, has long been reviled as a concrete behemoth by its neighbors in the residential Mayfair neighborhood.

By contrast, the new design is seen as comparatively airy and accessible, and seems less likely to clash with its surrounding in the Wandsworth community, on the other side of the River Thames.

US officials said in a statement that the structure will be surrounded by a green expanse "honoring the English tradition of urban parks and gardens as the context for many civic buildings."

Construction gets underway in 2013, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony set for 2017.

The winning concept overcame stiff competition from some of the world's leading architecture firms, including Pei Cobb Freed and Partners - the practice of I. M. Pei, architect of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris.

Another top contender was the firm Richard Meier & Partners, designers of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

A jury of both US and British architecture, academia and diplomacy experts selected four finalists from over three dozen contenders.

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