$1B US Embassy in London 'Far From Subtle'

Security challenges noted, but critics remain blah
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2010 8:25 PM CST
Another view.   (KieranTimberlake)
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(Newser) – 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.

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