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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

SEPTEMBER 2017

57

U.S. Embassy London in Nine Elms will set

new standards for security and sustainability.

Here are some insights into how it got there.

A New Citizen of

Ambassador (ret.) Richard LeBaron served as deputy

chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at U.S. Embassy

London from 2007 to 2010. He retired from the Foreign

Service in 2012 after a 33-year career. LeBaron was

ambassador to Kuwait from 2004 to 2007. Previously he served as

deputy chief of mission in Tel Aviv, chief of economic and political

affairs in Cairo, and in a variety of other positions abroad and in

Washington, D.C. He is currently a non-resident senior fellow at the

Atlantic Council.

I

n her outstanding 2010 book,

Citizens of London

,

Lynne Olson describes the roles of three Ameri-

cans at the outset of World War II. At that time,

journalist Edward R. Murrow, banker Averell Har-

riman and Ambassador John Gilbert Winant made

such an indelible mark on U.S.-U.K. relations that

they became iconic figures in Britain’s modern

history. Another distinguished citizen of London

is emerging today. It is not a statesman or even a

FEATURE

person, but rather a building—the brand, spanking-new embassy

of the United States, located across theThames from Chelsea.

As deputy chief of mission in London from 2007 to 2010, I had

the privilege of being involved in a small way with the selection

of the site for the new embassy, and also played a small role in

the architectural competition for the stunning new building that

U.S. diplomats are scheduled to occupy at the beginning of next

year. In my view, three aspects of the project deserve special

mention: the site, the security at the new mission and sustain-

ability.

Site Selection: A Difficult Process

The move was dictated by the inability to properly secure or

economically renovate the 1960 Eero Saarinen-designed build-

ing on Grosvenor Square in the Mayfair section of London. But

the shift to new premises was not certain until an appropriate

site could be found for a new diplomatic mission. That process

was long and complicated, and very nearly unsuccessful.

Some critics of the planned move had convinced themselves

BY R I CHARD L EBARON

LONDON

Shines on the Other Side

of the

THAMES