Embassy of the united states in london

Embassy of the United States in London

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Location Westminster, London
Address Grosvenor Square
Ambassador Matthew Barzun

The Embassy of the United States of America to the Court of St. James's has been located since 1960 in the American Embassy London Chancery Building, in Grosvenor Square, Westminster, London. The London embassy is the largest American embassy in Western Europe, and is the focal point for events relating to the United States held in the United Kingdom.

History

The first American Embassy in London was situated in Great Cumberland Place, later moving to Piccadilly, Portland Place and Grosvenor Gardens. In 1938, the embassy was moved to 1 Grosvenor Square (which now hosts part of the Canadian High Commission). During this time, Grosvenor Square began to accommodate many U.S. government offices, including the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the European headquarters of the United States Navy. Following World War II, the Duke of Westminster donated land for a memorial to wartime President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The American Embassy London Chancery Building was constructed in the late 1950s, opening in 1960. It was designed by Finnish American modernist architect Eero Saarinen. The building has nine stories, three of which are below ground. A large gilded aluminum Bald Eagle by Theodore Roszak, with a wingspan of over 11 metres (35 feet) is situated on the roof of the Chancery Building, making it a recognizable London landmark.[1] In October 2009, the building was granted Grade II listed status.[2]

Security concerns

Security at the embassy was further tightened in the 1980s and 1990s following successive attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. However, it was after the September 11 attacks in 2001 that security was significantly increased. A massive security operation at the embassy has seen one side of Grosvenor Square closed to public access by car, and armed roadblocks are stationed outside the building. On August 29, 2002, Kerim Chatty, a Swedish citizen of Tunisian descent was arrested at the Stockholm-Västerås Airport trying to board a Ryanair Flight 685 destined for London Stansted Airport with a loaded gun in his luggage. Anonymous intelligence sources cited in the media claimed that the man was planning to hijack the aircraft and crash it into the United States embassy in London, using the rooftop eagle to identify it from the air. Sweden's Security Service, Säpo, denied the claims and called the reports "false information".[3] The man was subsequently cleared of all terrorism-related charges.[4]

The security threat against the embassy has prompted the U.S. government to consider moving the embassy. Several British media outlets reported that the U.S. government had wished to use Kensington Palace as their embassy. This was apparently vetoed by Queen Elizabeth II, as several members of the British Royal Family, including Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, have their residences there. The embassy "strenuously denied" the reports, and a spokesman for Buckingham Palace reported that no formal request had been made.[5] Another possible option was Chelsea Barracks, for which the U.S. Embassy put in an unsuccessful bid in February 2007.[6]

Future

On October 8, 2008, the Embassy announced a conditional agreement with the real estate developer Ballymore to purchase property for the new Embassy site in the Nine Elms area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, south of the River Thames.[7] The site lies within the Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea Opportunity Area as set out in the London Plan. The proposed plan will only go forward if approved by the United States Congress and local planning authority.[8] The Northern line extension to Battersea will build new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms—combined with major local development. The United States Department of State announced in January 2009 that it was choosing among nine architectural firms, all "modern" and "upmarket", to replace the aging embassy headquarters.[7] In March 2009 the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations announced that four architectural firms had been selected for the final phase of the design competition.[7] By law, the architect for a U.S. embassy must be an American firm with "numerous security clearances".[7] As the projected cost balloons toward $1 billion, construction of the new embassy is expected to begin in 2012 or 2013, with relocation completed by 2016 or 2017.[9]

In November 2009, the U.S. government conditionally agreed to sell the Grosvenor Square Chancery Building to Qatari real-estate investment firm Qatari Diar, which in 2007 purchased the Chelsea Barracks.[10] Though the price was undisclosed, the building's worth was estimated at £500 million in July 200. The development value of the property was reduced when the building was given Grade II listed status,[11] requiring developers to maintain its current design, however it now ranks among Mayfair's 238 elegant listed buildings and monuments.[12][13]

On February 23, 2010, the U.S. government announced that a team led by the firm of KieranTimberlake has won the competition to design the new embassy building and surrounding greenspaces.[14] The winning design resembles a crystalline cube, with a semi-circular pond on one side (called a "moat" by the Times[15]) and surrounded by extensive public greenspaces.[16]

Embassy sections

There are also American consulates general in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Edinburgh, Scotland, and a Welsh Affairs Office in Cardiff, Wales, as well as a contact centre based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Staff

Louis B. Susman was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James's on July 29, 2009, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He took up his duties in London on August 17, 2009. The Deputy Chief of Mission is Barbara Stephenson.

See also

References

External links

  • Embassy of the United States - London
  • US Commercial Service at the US Embassy, London
  • US Embassy Hotel Desk
  • BBC News - "1968: Anti-Vietnam demo turns violent"

Coordinates: 51°30′40″N 0°09′11″W / 51.51118°N 0.15295°W / 51.51118; -0.15295

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