The most surprising aspect of the pricey new US Embassy in London is what isn't there: a perimeter fence. There is no imposing security barrier to protect the highly visible embassy in a city that has this year been targeted repeatedly by extremists. Instead there are some public gardens with benches on the edge of the property, then a pond to keep unauthorized people from approaching the new building south of the River Thames, the AP reports. Officials are quick to emphasize the pond is not a moat because it does not encircle the entire building. US Ambassador Robert "Woody" Johnson says the $1 billion building, which opens to the public on Jan. 16, is designed to be both welcoming and secure.
Johnson says he hopes President Trump will come to London for its official dedication, which may come weeks or longer after the embassy's first day of business. The new building, with its distinctive cube shape, is nearly twice as large as the old Grosvenor Square facility. William Moser, who supervises overseas building construction for the State Department says it is the single most expensive embassy building ever built by the United States, even though US diplomatic compounds in Kabul and Baghdad cost more. Moser says the money for the site and its development was generated by selling other US government properties in Britain, and the embassy was "built with no taxpayer dollars."