Plans for the new American embassy in London have been unveiled revealing what is in effect a huge glass cube.
The winning designs by KieranTimberlake come from a competition held by the American government exclusively for American architects, initially thirty seven in number and then narrowed down to nine finalists that included Pei Cobb and Morphosis.
The 13-floor building stands in the middle of landscaped grounds with green blast walls concealing the fortifications in an attempt to make it look less like a fortress. Cladding the south, west and east sides of the building is a complex fašade with projecting ETFE crystalline shapes set in front of the floor to ceiling glazing. Within the ETFE will be photovoltaics helping generate power for the building.
The end result makes it look surprisingly contemporary when compared to many of the new embassies the United States has built around the world over the past decade. Indeed, there has been a significant softening in the general design approach since the Obama administration was elected.
The northern side that faces towards the River Thames overlooks a large semi-circular water feature with public footpath on the other side, and avoids adornment for a more traditional international style approach to glazing.
The upper and lower ground floors are colonnaded and recessed back from the main building envelope whilst cut into the north western corner of the building near the top is a void with terraces to provide some outdoor space and give diplomats the chance to survey the London skyline.
Construction of the building should begin in 2013 and be completed in 2017 if it gets planning permission from Wandsworth Council and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.