February 23, 2010
U.S. Embassy London
Ambassador Louis B. Susman
Announcement of Winning Architect for Design of New U.S. Embassy
AMB SUSMAN: Good afternoon. I would like to welcome the press to an exciting moment in the history of the U.S. Embassy in London. Today we take an important step forward toward creating a new United States Embassy – a landmark building in a city known for landmarks. An ambitious mission statement was given to the architects asking them to design a building that met our functional needs while encompassing American values, and creating a welcoming environment for the community.
We will replace our current Embassy which has become over-crowded, does not meet modern office needs and required security standards, and after 50 years is showing signs of wear and tear. This effort has special significance in that we are creating a new home and focal point for one of our most cherished and valuable bilateral relationships.
It is my great pleasure to announce that the winning architect for the design of the new United States Embassy in London is the firm of KieranTimberlake of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
KieranTimberlake is a well-respected firm which, since being founded in 1984, has received over one hundred design citations, including the prestigious Architecture Firm Award in 2008, the highest honor given by the American Institute of Architects.
I’m honored to have James Timberlake here with us today, and I will call on him to say a few words a little later. In addition to being a founding member of the firm, James is an accomplished academic and author. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, and Endowed Professor in Sustainability at the University of Washington, and was the Eero Saarinen Distinguished Professor of Design at Yale University.
I want to give my profound thanks to the distinguished American and British members of the design competition jury who, beginning over a year ago, devoted much time and energy to this project. Their dynamic contribution provided many insights and ideas and we look forward to continued help going forward.
We are very pleased with the decision to select KieranTimberlake. James, you of course have my hearty congratulations. We feel the design concept you put forward best meets the goal of creating a modern, welcoming, secure and efficient Embassy for the 21st century. It was also the most environmentally-friendly of the four projects. This is not surprising, as KieranTimberlake has made a name for itself in the U.S. as a firm firmly committed to innovation and environmental responsibility.
Although this is a big step forward, we still have a lot of work to do. In many ways, this is just the beginning. KieranTimberlake’s design concept will evolve and develop as we move forward with the consultation and planning process. As Ambassador, I am committed to an open and transparent process going forward in all the next phases of the project. This includes not only being a good neighbor in our new home in Nine Elms, but continuing our efforts in Grosvenor Square.
We hope to contribute to the architectural heritage and future history of this great city. But ultimately this project is about people. The dedicated people who work with us; the people who work every day to strengthen U.S.-UK relations; the people who visit the Embassy for services or events; and most importantly, the people who live and work in Nine Elms, Battersea and Wandsworth. We will be, now and in the future, a vital contributor and a good citizen in the community of our new home.
The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations of the U.S. State Department has brilliantly run a fair, rigorous and comprehensive design competition. This has required a herculean effort of which I am very proud. We have with us today Adam Namm, the acting Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, who I would like to call upon at this time.
Adam E. Namm
Acting Director of the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
It is a pleasure to be here in London to offer my congratulations to Stephen Kieran, James Timberlake and the entire KieranTimberlake team. I also want to offer congratulations from my boss, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, who accepted the Jury’s recommendation and selected KieranTimberlake as the winner of the design competition for the new United States Embassy in London.
The Department of State has used a juried design competition for a new Embassy building only four times: once in Beijing, once in Berlin, and now, for the second time, in London.
The challenge for the architectural firms in this competition was not an easy one. Each firm endeavored to design an Embassy that would combine necessary security with openness, functionality and sustainability.
The KieranTimberlake Team met that challenge superbly.
Starting with 37 architectural submissions, my Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations narrowed the number to a shortlist of nine firms.
A distinguished jury of American and British citizens, leaders in the fields of architecture, academia and diplomacy, refined the list to four firms for the final phase of the competition.
The four finalists worked for almost a year. They visited London to evaluate the site and, at the end of the process, came to Washington to make presentations to the Jury.
The KieranTimberlake Team’s concept holds great potential to be an iconic Embassy building. Significantly, the design concept boldly incorporates sustainability features, especially important as the US Government, as other countries and businesses, seeks to go green. I am especially pleased that the Kieran Timberlake Team has conceived an Embassy with the goal of achieving BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum certifications; one that is forecast to be a net exporter of energy when it opens.
The anticipated groundbreaking for our new London Embassy is in 2013, with move-in planned for 2017. Our project will be a stimulus to the London economy, create local jobs and will further the revitalisation of Nine Elms.
Until we break ground at Nine Elms Lane, the design process will continue. During this process, we will consult with Wandsworth and the Mayor’s Office, the GLA, CABE, English Heritage, and the residents in the neighborhood we plan to call home to our new Embassy. I want to thank our British partners for their past and future support of our efforts.
Ambassador, I join you in expressing my excitement for this project and, James, let me congratulate you and the KieranTimberlake Team again for a well-deserved selection.
Thank you, Ambassador Susman and Adam Namm, for your kind remarks. I’d like to express our gratitude to Henry Cobb, Richard Meier, Thom Mayne and their teams for their collegial and professional effort during the competition, to the distinguished members of the jury, and to the individuals at the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations who ushered us through the process.
On behalf of Stephen Kieran and me, and KieranTimberlake, we are deeply honored to be given the opportunity to design the new United States embassy in London. Although we have already dedicated almost one year to the design, we are delighted to find ourselves very much at the beginning of a partnership with the US Department of State and the United Kingdom to further develop and bring this project to reality.
The process thus far has been deeply collaborative, involving the firms OLIN, Arup, Weidlinger Associates, Gensler, Davis Langdon, and Sako & Associates. We look forward to working together toward a building design and landscape that represents in equal measure the United Kingdom and the United States.
The design seeks a holistic fusion of urbanism, building and landscape. Our goal is that the New Embassy is both evocative and performative. KieranTimberlake fully embraces the need at this moment in time to define a new environment for diplomacy, and to map a passage toward a new diplomacy of the environment. Your feedback in the next stages of the process is crucial to us. We welcome your partnership in meeting these common goals. Thank you.