One Billion Dollar US London Embassy with Moat!

By Catherine Philp, The Times UK, Posted By Newssleuth

A model of the US Embassy in Battersea, complete with moat 30m wide and rolling parkland.

The United States has unveiled plans for its new $1 billion high-security embassy in London — the most expensive it has ever built.

The proposals were met with relief from both the present embassy’s Mayfair neighbours and the residents and developers of the Battersea wasteland where the vast crystalline cube, surrounded by a moat, will be built.

The decision to abandon the former site in Grosvenor Square by 2016 came after a prolonged battle with residents angered by the security measures demanded after the September 11 attacks. More than a hundred residents took out a full-page advertisement in The Times to oppose tighter measures that they said would leave the area more vulnerable to attack.

The new embassy, on a former industrial site behind Battersea power station known for its gay clubs, will be designed by Kieran Timberlake, the Philadelphia architect.

A moat 30 metres (100ft) wide and rolling parkland will separate the building from the main road, protecting it from would-be bombers and removing the need for the blast barriers that so dismayed the people of Mayfair.

The State Department sought to play down the cost of security measures, noting the expense of London building work. But the price puts the London embassy above the US’s most fortified missions, including the Baghdad embassy, which cost $600 million (£390 million) but required a further $100 million of work on air conditioning, and the Islamabad embassy, still under construction, which has cost more than $850 million.

It also does not include the 17.5 per cent VAT demanded by the Treasury on all buildings in Britain and which the US has refused to pay.

Louis Susman, the US Ambassador, said: “We intend to do what’s appropriate and we are working with the Treasury on that.” He acknowleged past difficulties, pledging to be “a good neighbour in our new home” and said that the ecofriendly building would generate enough power to contribute to the national grid.

The new location will take the embassy out of the Central London congestion zone. US diplomats owe an estimated £32 million in congestion charges and fines, which they refuse to pay on the ground that they are exempt from taxes in Britain.

The unpaid dues led Ken Livingstone, as the Mayor of London, to call Robert Tuttle, the ambassador at the time, a “chiselling little crook”.

This discontent was almost equalled when the embassy learnt in November that its Grosvenor Square premises were to be given a Grade II listing. Despite the development limits imposed by the decision, the embassy was still sold for more than $1 billion to a Qatari company that plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.

The embassy said that a statue of Ronald Reagan soon to be put up in Grosvenor Square will not be part of the Battersea site. “It will absolutely not be moved,” an official said. “Nor will the Eisenhower.”

14 responses to “One Billion Dollar US London Embassy with Moat!

  1. A BILLION DOLLARS!! But then the dollar won’t be worth as much after double digit inflation or when the country goes bankrupt. A billion dollars won’t really be that much money.

    Of course we need a BILLION dollar embassy….with a moat….

    I wonder if there will be knights and a jousting arena?

  2. It looks like it’s made of clear Legos.

  3. Ice cube trays. Very expensive ice cube trays.

    • I thought ice village a- la ugly !
      Looks like an ad for White-Westinghouse or GE to me with an icy twist.
      Remember the ice hotel and restaurant on HGTV in Sweden or Norway or around there ? It was much prettier and cheaper !
      Yuk !
      Vanilla ice, ice baby !

  4. Terence Neilan Contributor AOL News

    The U.S. has gone modern and medieval at the same time with its design for a new $1 billion embassy in London. Its new home, which will look like a glass cube sitting on stilts, will include a semicircular moat and bomb-resistant glazing, all in the name of security.

    The move from the fancy Mayfair district to the less-glamorous Battersea area on the south bank of the River Thames was prompted by a number of factors, said the U.S. ambassador, Louis Susman.

    The present Grosvenor Square building “has become overcrowded, does not meet modern office needs and required security standards –and, after 50 years, is showing signs of wear and tear,” he said in a statement.

    What he didn’t mention was the angry opposition by fellow high-end Grosvenor Square residents to new security measures, including bomb-blast barriers, deemed necessary after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center.

    In 2006, more than 100 residents took out a double-page ad in The Times of London opposing tighter security measures that they said would leave the area, a collection of mainly Georgian-style houses surrounding a park, more vulnerable to attack.

    Plans for the new 12-story embassy, on an 11-acre former industrial site near the highly visible but disused Battersea power station, call for work to start in 2013 and to be completed by 2017.

    “It meets and exceeds all the security requirements,” said U.S. architect James Timberlake, whose Philadelphia-based firm, KieranTimberlake, won the contract to design the building. “We are using elements of landscaping that have been around for centuries and centuries.

    “But it’s not a fortress,” he added. “We are able to use the landscape as a security device. There’s no wall and no fences.”

    There is a lake 100 feet wide and a rolling earth bank that will separate the building from the main road and protect it from would-be bombers. The building will be able to house 1,000 people.

    The new embassy is designed to be almost self-sufficient in energy, thanks in part to puffy-looking plastic panels attached to the facade. They will hold photovoltaic cells that can convert sunlight into energy and will also act as sunscreens to prevent overheating.

    The Grosvenor Square building will get a new life as a luxury hotel, the London Times reported. A company from Qatar paid more than $1 billion for it.

  5. You have got to be kidding me??? This is ………….okay, I am speechless….I don’t know what it is except stupid, disgusting, sickening, ridiculous…..Will this really come to fruition with all the turmoil and financial troubles our great country is facing now???

    Well, I guess when the NWO comes into full gear, they will have two castles to stay in….one in London/Battersea and Babylon, uh I mean Baghdad !

  6. More Muslim in-your-face symbolism? Looks like the Kaaba:

    Complete with the hatīm, a semi-circular wall now outside the Kaaba, only this one’s a moat.

    First we have the 9/11 memorial at Shanksville. Then the new DoD logo. Now this. Is everybody blind? Or do they refuse to SEE?


  7. Check out this press release about the design contest and how it developed:

    “The four firms explored the symbolism of the embassy, its presence and position in the cityscape of London. Their goal was to create a building and site complex with a timeless quality to appropriately represent the United States of America in the United Kingdom.”

    I would certainly be interested in seeing the results of their exploration of the symbolism of the building. Wouldn’t you?

    KieranTimberlake, the winning firm, is in PA.
    Look at the photos on their page:

    What’s up with those weird things at the top of the building? The things that look like scimitar blades? Or flames?

  8. Did they make room for the United Nations?

  9. New US London Embassy Proves Insanity Lives on Capitol Hill
    by: Heather Hayman at Flopping Aces

    I am an American. I have spent the past year grinding my teeth, losing sleep, screaming until I’m hoarse. My government is failing me and I’m almost at a loss as to what I should do. Rallies seem pointless; letters and phone calls to congressmen are ignored. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a cancer living in DC. It is called Congress and I fear it may be fatal. The ridiculous manner in which both House and Senate leadership have pursued health care reform is reason enough to believe things are coming apart at the seams. Then there’s the endless, clueless, careless spending. Those who are supposed to represent us are selling us into slavery to China, Japan, Britain, Russia, and on goes the list. Sorry Ms. Pelosi, I don’t recall signing up anywhere to be a slave.

    As the country I love is being dismantled before me, I am confronted with new absurdities every day. Take today for example. I made the mistake of reading an AP article posted on the Washington Post website. It took me several minutes to read the brief missive because my eyes kept fogging over with rage. According to the piece, we should all rejoice that a Philadelphia architectural firm has won the bid to design our new, “carbon neutral,” state-of-the-art London Embassy. The price tag? $1 Billion. That’s right, Billion with a B. You’re probably thinking it must be a sprawling facility with thousands of employees. No, it is not. This outrageously expensive complex — to be completed by 2017 — will be a mere 12 stories and accommodate only 1,000 employees. Don’t worry, your math is correct. We are poised to spend $1 Million per employee so they can have shiny-new, eco-friendly offices. Will this insanity ever end? Adam Namm, acting director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, admits the structure will be “in the ballpark of the most expensive embassies we have built.” Really? No kidding.

    Things like this only make me wonder what other enormous wastes are looming out there ready to swallow our country whole. I am angry and sad and like many of you reading this, I feel helpless to stop what is happening. I try to remain hopeful that November will bring a changing of the guard. But in many ways the trust has been lost; the trust that those we send to Washington will truly represent us, will uphold the Constitution, and will serve honorably, wisely, and without greed, ego, and pettiness. The only thing I know for sure, is that something must change and change fast if we are to survive as a free people.

    • At least they’ll save us money on heating and cooling.

      How many years until those “green” features pay for themselves? A couple million years?

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