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Old November 12th, 2008, 06:29 PM   #21
fitz44
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http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/n...mpetition.html

British firms barred from US Embassy competition

US government admits 'foreign' firms will not be eligible to design the new embassy in London
British architects have been barred from competing to design the new US Embassy in London due to security reasons.

The American government has confirmed that no foreign firm will be eligible to apply for the £275 million project to build the new home for the US consulate at Nine Elms in Wandsworth.

According to tender documents recently issued by the US administration, the 'lead designer' must be based in America and have the necessary security clearance.

The US Embassy, which will move out of its Eero Saarinen-designed building in Grosvenor Square, is not bound by EU procurement rules.

A disappointed Jeremy Estop of MJP Architects, which designed the British Embassy in Bangkok, said Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) had 'managed to deal with security issues' despite using architects from around the world.

He said: 'The FCO is currently employing American architects for new British Embassies in Jakarta [HOK Architects] and Rabat [RTKL Architects].

'If security is the reason, then logically this would mean the [State Department] intends to fly in a whole US construction work force, which cannot be practical.'

However, a spokesman for the US Embassy insisted there were still opportunities for UK firms: 'It is anticipated and encouraged that the winning design team could incorporate UK and other members with international expertise.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #22
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That is ******* ridiculous. 'Security reasons', what idiots. Its being built in our country, we should be able to decide what's acceptable.
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Old November 12th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #23
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Absolutely, americans again 'acting' like they own the world...
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Old November 13th, 2008, 12:17 PM   #24
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Why lie? Why not just say we want an American company to design it.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 03:13 PM   #25
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Just another example of how insular americans are in the world.
The new Embassy will no doubt be fortified up to hell - and yet, pathetically, Wandsworth Council say it will be 'a welcome addition' to the borough. Welcome my foot - it may as well be built on a remote island somewhere for all the benefit it will be to the general population. I wish the Wandsworth planning dept had the guts to say 'no Uk designers - no planning approval' - but they won't. As a Wandsworth council tax payer - i'm not too happy about having this security risk on my doorstep.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 10:25 PM   #26
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It's not particularly insular - the vast majority of new built embassies are by architects from that country. Take Berlin, a city with a considerable number of new embassies since reunification: the British Embassy is by Michael Wilford, the Dutch embassy is by Rem Koolhaas, the American embassy is by Moore Ruble Yudell, the Mexican embassy is by Francisco Serrano, the Eygptian embassy is by Samir Rabie (and designed to look like a bloody pharoah's temple!) and the Nordic embassies were by Alfred Berger and Tiina Parkkinen.

It seems odd to be hostile on the one hand to the security the new embassy will need and yet also worry about the risks of terrorism. As another resident of Wandsworth, I'm excited about having this in my backgarden - it'll be a boost for the local economy and bridge the psychological divide of the Thames somewhat, hopefully with a high quality building in the process.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 04:01 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREAT_Britain View Post
That is ******* ridiculous. 'Security reasons', what idiots. Its being built in our country, we should be able to decide what's acceptable.
An embassy is not part of the country though, whoever it belongs to. It becomes US soil until they move out sometime in the future.

They have every right to choose who builds it and how the security surrounding it is laid out.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 04:19 PM   #28
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I don't see the problem with an American designing it. The embassy is the representation of the nation in a foreign land, and its US soil
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Old November 20th, 2008, 05:59 PM   #29
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I don't know what all the fuss is about. It's not like American architects are terrible at their job or anything. You never know, we might end up with a fabulous Libeskind design or something.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:24 PM   #30
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I would imagine that in this particular part of Wandsworth they will have pretty much a free hand to design something radical - seeing as there's no conservation area or historical context to content with. Let's hope so anyway!
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:32 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitz44 View Post
I would imagine that in this particular part of Wandsworth they will have pretty much a free hand to design something radical - seeing as there's no conservation area or historical context to content with. Let's hope so anyway!
Or the other way around, as it is not an urban challenging area, they may get away easily and build something on the cheap.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:36 PM   #32
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They should build underground bunker.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 07:36 PM   #33
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I'm a bit troubled by the Saarinen. One the one hand it isn't anywhere near his best building--on the other, it IS the UK's only example of his work. And it's fairly unique. I expect the eagle will be removed and displayed at the new building--maybe in a less hawkish fashion.

Does anyone know what was on the site prior?
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Old November 20th, 2008, 08:44 PM   #34
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The only place I can think of where it could be placed (although it may be part of the Vinoly development) is a large brownfield site stretching around the south and south-west of the power station bordering onto the railway lines.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #35
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Shortlist for London's new US embassy revealed
5 January, 2009
By Emily Cadman

Thomas Mayne's Morphosis Architects, SOM, KPF and Richard Meier & Partners are among nine firms on the all-American shortlist to design Britain’s £275 million new US embassy.

In October, the US government announced it would be leaving London’s Grosvenor Square for a site south of the river, close to Terry Farrell’s high-security MI6 building.

It announced it was barring non US companies from competing to build the embassy for security reasons.

The US state department has now announced the nine longlisted firms, which will produce conceptual drawings, with a jury selecting four or five to produce formal designs.

Richard Rogers will sit on the jury, along with American ambassador Clyde D. Taylor, Thomas W. Hicks, Frances Halsband, Peter Rolland, Michaele Pride, Peter Palumbo, and James Carpenter.

Only US architects with “experience in the design of American embassies and other buildings” were invited to tender for the project as designing the building will require access to classified information for which foreign firms are not eligible, according to the state department.

British companies will be eligible to act as sub contractors though.

The full shortlist
Richard Meier and Partners
Morphosis Architects
Gwathmey, Siegel and Associates
Kallmann, McKinnell and Wood
KieranTimberlake
Kohn, Pedersen, Fox Associates
PEI Cobb Freed and Partners
Perkins and Will
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
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Old January 5th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #36
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Oh, very exciting. I hope Meier get it, although I'd be very happy with Morphosis.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 09:25 AM   #37
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Planning

Just a quick question - are embassies subject to the same local planning rules as any other building, or would the US be allowed to build whatever they want here?
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Old January 7th, 2009, 09:56 AM   #38
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Pretty sure that diplomatic immunity is only in relation to specific personnel working in the embassy (those with a diplomatic passport) to protect them from criminal prosecution not civil issues. It's alledgedly to protect staff who are working in countries with a very different legal system than their own (for example, in some middle east and asian countries).

So, I would expect the embassy to have to go through the same planning hoops as any other major building. They may be able to withhold some of the details of the building for security reasons, but they'll still need to submit a planning application and get it approved. However, I would also suspect that, if the local council rejected it, there may be a few phonecalls between the US Embassy, the UK Government and Wandsworth council to get the planners to change their minds.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 11:20 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
They should build underground bunker.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #40
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The audacity of open architecture
09 January 2009
Jonathan Glancey

Under the Bush presidency, the US has been erecting bunker-like embassy designs worldwide. With the inauguration of Obama, will the new US embassy in south London take a different tack?

The new US embassy in London, due to open sometime between the 2012 Olympics and the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, will not be in the centre of the city. Located south of the river, not far from the sorry wreck of Battersea Power Station, the suburban compound will be a kind of fortress designed to protect staff and US interests from physical attack.

Although the London embassy is unlikely to be such a vast and bullying fortress as the recently opened US “crusader castle” embassy in Baghdad, which is 10 times the size of the UN complex in New York, its architect, whoever that proves to be, will have its work cut out in trying to civilise the US’s 21st century Tower of London.

US foreign policy over the past decade, aided and abetted by the craven New Labour movement (although to be fair, the Tories would have followed the same dim path), has been one and perhaps the major cause of the apparent need for Washington’s policy of constructing “standard embassy designs” — bunkers — in parts of the world where the it feels under threat, including London.

With the imminent inauguration of Barack Obama as president, there may well be some change in the disastrous foreign policy pursued by the blindly and unrepentantly aggressive Bush regime. Of course there have been nasty, vicious forces at work abroad, attempting to undermine the best of western values, but the duty of the US, Britain and other major democracies is to set an example of decency from a position of strength, even in the face of naked aggression. So might the London embassy yet be a shining example of architectural grace, welcome and civilised manners? Don’t hold your breath. Bunkers are hard to dress in glass.

The rot, though, may have set in decades ago. Even the inspired Eero Saarinen produced a resolutely glum design for the US embassy in Grosvenor Square half a century ago. Topped with a mighty bronze eagle, this bombastic building looked like some Albert Speer fantasy projected into the Cold War.

At least, though, the embassy was in Mayfair, where notable US ambassadors and at least four US presidents once represented the interests of their dynamic, democratic, freedom-loving nation. And — hard to believe now — we were all once welcome in the wonderful library in the heart of Saarinen’s otherwise overbearing design.

People across the world, not least in the US itself, are hopeful that the end of the Bush years will signal a return to form in Washington.

The US has been and can be a great force for good in the world. But to do so, it might begin by setting its architectural house in order and learning once again that diplomacy, in the form of bricks and mortar as well as political and military stratagems, can be a force as notably visible as any number of gun-sprouting concrete bunkers.

Hopefully, Washington might truly say Happy New Year.
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