Richard Meier & Partners was selected as one of four finalists in the competition to design the new United States Embassy in London, UK. This represented a unique opportunity to redefine the architectural model for an embassy that reflects the important relationship between our countries that meets the changing needs of Embassy programming.
The design team developed planning and architectural concepts that reinterpreted the Standard Embassy Design typology to enable it to function as a new kind of civic institution: open, inviting, and receptive to public events as well as to the formalities of the Embassy operations. Although this new institution is large and multifaceted, it is designed to have human scale and offer the hospitality of early residential-scaled embassies. The architecture is a direct response to the complex program goals, and to the historic and future context. A strong and inspiring sense of place has been created by transforming the site in a dramatic way.
The architectural massing is layered from east to west, with public access areas on the east, office areas in the middle, and additional office areas to the west. The layering of the architecture is an expression of the program parts drawn together in a composition that projects an image of strength and clarity of purpose. A limited palette of materials was selected, familiar in the London urban fabric, including architectural concrete, transparent and translucent glass, and Portland stone.
The Main Entrance and Embassy Lobby are approached through a landscaped courtyard which is paved for vehicle drop-off, outdoor receptions and ceremonies, and is scaled to create a welcoming outdoor room and an approachable façade of translucent glass framed by stone. A glass thermal wall is animated by sail-shaped shades that deploy throughout the day and seasons of the year in a myriad of patterns that respond to sun position.