The Embassy of the United States of America to the Court of St. James's has been located since 1960 in the American Embassy London Chancery Building, in Grosvenor Square, Westminster, London. The London embassy is the largest American embassy in Western Europe, and is the focal point for events relating to the United States held in the United Kingdom.
The first American Embassy in London was situated in Great Cumberland Place, later moving to Piccadilly, Portland Place and Grosvenor Gardens. In 1938, the embassy was moved to 1 Grosvenor Square (which now hosts part of the Canadian High Commission). During this time, Grosvenor Square began to accommodate many U.S. government offices, including the headquarters of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the European headquarters of the United States Navy. Following World War II, the Duke of Westminster donated land for a memorial to wartime President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The American Embassy London Chancery Building was constructed in the late 1950s, opening in 1960. It was designed by Finnish American modernist architect Eero Saarinen. The building has nine stories, three of which are below ground. A large gilded aluminum Bald Eagle by Theodore Roszak, with a wingspan of over 11 metres (35 feet) is situated on the roof of the Chancery Building, making it a recognizable London landmark. In October 2009, the building was granted Grade II listed status.
This embassy, as with many U.S. embassies in the world, is situated on land that is not owned by the U.S. government. The land is leased from the Duke of Westminster who, when asked if he would sell the land outright, responded that he would if the U.S. Government would return the land that belonged to his family in the U.S. before it was confiscated during the Revolutionary War. The Duke refused to grant a freehold because, from the Duke's perspective, the U.S. Government had stolen some of his ancestor's estates in Virginia.
On 2 October 2008, the Embassy announced a conditional agreement with the real estate developer Ballymore to purchase property for the new Embassy site in the Nine Elms area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, south of the River Thames. The site lies within the Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea Opportunity Area as set out in the London Plan. The proposed plan will only go forward if approved by the United States Congress and local planning authority. The Northern line extension to Battersea will build new stations at Battersea and Nine Elms - combined with major local development. The United States Department of State announced in January 2009 that it was choosing among nine architectural firms, all "modern" and "upmarket," to replace the aging embassy headquarters. In March 2009 the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations announced that four architectural firms had been selected for the final phase of the design competition. By law, the architect for a U.S. embassy must be an American firm with "numerous security clearances." As the projected cost balloons toward $1 billion, construction of the new embassy is expected to begin in 2012 or 2013, with relocation completed by 2016 or 2017.
Address : 24 Grosvenor Square Mayfair, London W1A 2LQ, United Kingdom
Phone : +442074999000