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US government to stage design comp for new London embassy

The US government will launch an international competition to design its new embassy in Wandsworth, south London.

Last week, the US State Department unveiled plans to move its diplomatic facility from its current 48-year-old home in west London's Grosvenor Square, designed by Eero Saarinen, to the Nine Elms Opportunity Area close to Battersea Power Station.

The US government has already signed an agreement with developer Ballymore to buy a suitable plot, but the proposal still needs approval from the US Congress.

Ambassador Robert Tuttle, who led the search for a new site, said: ‘We looked at all our options, including renovation of our current building on Grosvenor Square.

‘In the end, we realised that the goal of a modern, secure and environmentally sustainable embassy could best be met by constructing a new facility.’

The plans leaves the future of the 1960 Saarinen building in doubt, with some reports claiming the six-storey building could be bulldozed to make way for flats and a hotel.

However, a decision from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport about whether the landmark will be listed is expected in the next few days.

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