Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building
  • 8 May 2017

VIDEO: US Embassy takes shape in Nine Elms

Dramatic new video has shown the progress of the new US Embassy in Nine Elms with its giant glass cube design and moat-like entrance. 

The £770m 11-storey building is set to open later this year and is being built by US contractor B L Harbert with Sir Robert McAlpine in the UK.

It will be 100 feet from the street and feature an anti-ram barrier and bomb-proof exterior to prevent attacks

The building has been designed by Philadelphia-based architect firm Kieran Timberlake and has attracted criticism for its skyrocketing cost and ultra modern design. According to US officials the new building will be nearly self-sufficient in energy production and even capable of operating off-grid “for an extended period”, according to officials.

Unlike most glass office buildings, which appear slick and hard-edged, this one will look soft and pillowy thanks to the lightweight plastic scrims that will be attached to the facade like boat sails.

The scrims are made from the same ETFE fabric that was quilted on to the Beijing Watercube for the 2008 Olympics, they will be embedded with photovoltaic cells that can convert sunlight into energy.

They will also act as sunscreens to keep interiors from overheating. And because the fins are pinched at regular intervals, they create a rippling, sculptural effect on the glass surface.

The former US Embassy in Grosvenor Square was designed by Eero Saarinen and it was decided to relocate as the building was deemed too small, outdated and hard to defend from security threats.

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