New United States embassy opens in London.
The new site, a 12-story glass cube, designed by Philadelphia architecture firm KieranTimberlake and replete with moat and gardens, will open its doors to the public on January 16. It will house around 800 staff and is expected to receive 1,000 visitors daily.
The billion-dollar building was paid for by selling other US government properties in London. Some members of the US Congress criticizing the hefty price tag.
At a hearing in 2015, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican and chairman of the House oversight committee, slammed the administration’s construction process as mismanaged, resulting in a building with an “opulent-looking” glass facade that favored aesthetics over security.
With a price tag of $1 billion, the new US embassy in London is one of the most expensive buildings of its kind in the world. After US President Donald Trump said he was canceling his visit to London in part because of his proclaimed outrage over the cost, it is now one of the most notorious.
In a late-night tweet, Trump blamed the Obama administration for a “bad deal” to sell the previous location in the high-end Mayfair district in central London and move to a former industrial site south of the River Thames.
In fact, the decision to move out of the Grosvenor Square building was taken under the Bush administration in 2008, principally because the building was proving harder to secure in an age of terrorist threats — and also, in small part at least, because the US government did not wholly own it.