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“six-star” hotel the Qatari

sovereign wealth fund will

install at the Grosvenor

Square location.

Security and Design

In the spring of 2009,

the principals from the

four finalist firms in the architectural competition gathered in

London to get a better feel for the site and the complex require-

ments of building there. As chargé d’affaires during the transi-

tion period between the Bush and Obama administrations, I was

asked to address them as they finished their initial survey.

The new U.S. Embassy London up close. The lightweight plastic scrims that give a soft and billowy look to the exterior are embedded

with photovoltaic cells that can convert sunlight into energy. At the same time, they will act as sunscreens to keep interiors from



Security must never be the

only objective. Our diplomatic

missions need to reflect the

open society they represent.

I told them a story:

When I was ambassador

to Kuwait, I made a habit

of asking guests who

visited my embassy office

if they were treated with

courtesy as they entered

our mission. In one case, I

asked an older gentleman whether the security measures (which

included a Kuwaiti armored personnel carrier) had made him

nervous. His response: “Oh, no, Mr. Ambassador, I wasn’t ner-

vous. I was scared!”

I challenged the architects to turn that story on its head: when