SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

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 12:42 PM
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 12:42 PM

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.

West Lafayette
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 52°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
Rensselaer
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 43°
Fowler
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 52°
Williamsport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 43°
Crawfordsville
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 44°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 44°
Delphi
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 46°
Monticello
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 46°
Logansport
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 41°
Another cold one before we warm up! Patchy frost is possible tonight.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events