May 30, 2014

A New Embassy for a New Era

James Timberlake stands before the site of the new American embassy in London as construction continues on the building, due to open in 2017.
© David Vintiner, The RIBA Journal

In a recent profile in the RIBA Journal (Royal Institute of British Architects), James Timberlake reframes the discussion of the new London embassy in the British press. Timberlake discusses how the highly performative design sets a new paradigm for American embassies, integrating a host of environmentally responsible features and creating welcoming public spaces.  

Defender of the faith

by Jan-Carlos Kucharek 

In 2017 London's new $1bn US embassy complex will open. James Timberlake, of its architect Kieran Timberlake, feels a realistic appraisal of the design will vanquish its critics. 
Kieran Timberlake partner James Timberlake, though silver-haired, remains a strapping fellow. Especially when his face is six inches from yours and he's hauling you up off your toes by your lapels. Maybe it's something I said. ‘It's not a moat,' he intones slowly, smiling, before resting me back down on my heels and smoothing my collar down, ‘It's a pond.' True, maybe the word ‘moat', suggesting at least defensiveness, is too loaded a meaning; but we are looking over the hole in the ground that'll be the new American Embassy in London, and what's the meaning of ‘pond' anyway? Something in your garden? A component of a SuDS strategy? The Atlantic? It turns out it's actually all three to Timberlake, hence his robust distinction.

"Defender of the Faith" is no longer available online. It can be found in the May 2014 issue of RIBA Journal, available by subscription.