New U.S. Embassy in London Clears Last Hurdle for 2017 Opening

The U.S. Embassy’s move to a new building in southwest London in 2017 cleared its final planning hurdle after the local authority approved detailed plans for the facility.

The Wandsworth Council last night agreed to final specifications for the 11-story cube-shaped building designed by KieranTimberlake that will be built on a 2.15-hectare (5.3-acre) site in Nine Elms, about a mile from the Houses of Parliament, the council said in a statement.

Preliminary work has started in preparing the site and B.L. Harbert International LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based contractor, is scheduled to break ground next year. The U.S. State Department agreed to sell the existing embassy building on Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, to Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. three years ago to fund the relocation.

The future embassy will sit in the center of a park, protected by a security screen on its southern perimeter with three entry pavilions. The north side will feature a pond and gardens landscaped to hide security boundaries. The planners aim to get a BREEAM environmental rating of “outstanding,” for the building’s features such as solar panels and wildlife habitats, the council said. It would be one of just 30 buildings in the world to receive the highest rating.

The embassy is one of the centerpieces of a 10 billion-pound ($16.2 billion) regeneration program of the Nine Elms district of Wandsworth, which will also involve the renovation and development on the site of the derelict Battersea Power Station. The 400 million-pound purchase of the station site was completed earlier this month by a group of Malaysian investors.

The 195-hectare Nine Elms district is Europe’s largest regeneration program, involving former industrial sites near the River Thames. There is planning consent for 2 million square meters (21.5 million square feet) of development including shops, offices and schools as well as 16,000 homes.

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