Arts & Culture  Features

Nine Elms Americana

US Embassy facade

Published on
July 4, 2017

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Seeing as it’s the fourth of July, we’d like to wish our American friends and residents a Happy Independence Day.

Back in 2008, it was announced that the US Embassy is moving to Wandsworth and we’ve been keeping our eyes on the glass cube taking shape along Nine Elms Lane. This iconic building is super energy efficient and will be an anchor for new jobs, new businesses and a new American community in our neighbourhood.

The old embassy has proven to be too small, outdated, and difficult to keep secure. It was designed by Eero Saarinen, known for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, but many felt that it clashed with the Georgian style houses in Mayfair.

The new building, on the other hand, is in line with the modern glass structures popping up in Nine Elms. It is modern, spacious, and has some state of the art security features. It’s the product of acclaimed US architecture firm KieranTimberlake, and was constructed under a program called Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities which is a State Department initiative to bring beauty to government buildings. They have a slew of celebrated architects designing the Beirut, Mexico City, Maputo, and Brasilia embassies just to name a few.

The embassy along Nine Elms is made it to be nearly self-sufficient in energy production and even operate off-the-grid for extended periods of time. That pillowy sail-like coverage on the side of the cube is made of ‘Etfe’ fabric (not ‘covfefe’ fabric). It’s actually embedded with photovoltaic cells that will generate electricity from sunlight even in rainy London. You might recognize the material from the Beijing Olympics Watercube!

The embassy opening date has yet to be set but it has been announced that Woody Johnson – owner of the New York Jets – has been nominated to be the new US Ambassador to Britain.

Soon, we will see diplomats, embassy staff, and Mr. Johnson join the Nine Elms community, but it seems the gilded aluminium eagle will not be joining us in Nine Elms. The 35-foot wing sculpture on top of the current embassy was created by artist Theodore Roszak and was inspired by a pre-Independence carved wooden eagle in a New England museum. The destination of this art piece remains a mystery.


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