Architecture critics aren’t too impressed with the winner in the US State Department’s competition to design its next London embassy. “Cool, remote and far from subtle” reads the Guardian’s headline; “all the glamour of a corporate office block,” harrumphs Nicolai Ouroussoff for the New York Times. The security and public-image challenges, in particular, are noted. “Hard to think of a project,” Ouroussoff writes, “that more perfectly reflects the country’s current struggle to maintain a welcoming, democratic image while under the constant threat of attack.”
Adds Jonathan Glancey of the (projected) $1 billion design from Philadelphia firm KieranTimberlake: “Cool, remote and superficially transparent, the winning design does reflect what we can divine of the US political process—nominally open to all and yet, in practice, tightly controlled.” With meadows and a moat as much for defense as looks in the area along the Thames, it’s unclear how long the project might take to finish.