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Our New Tower in London’

To the Editors:

In his article about the design for a new US embassy [“Our New Tower in London,” NYR, April 8], Martin Filler writes that the mayor of London and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) said they “could not approve the winning design.” This is incorrect. Neither opposes the design, and indeed CABE has been very supportive of the concept put forward by KieranTimberlake, as have English Heritage and the London Borough of Wandsworth. The design is also much more sustainable than Filler suggests in this piece. It will be carbon-neutral, have a self-sustaining water system, be very energy-efficient, and meet or exceed both US and UK sustainability guidelines by aiming for LEED Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding ratings. We are very pleased with this design, which we feel best meets the goal of creating a modern, welcoming, secure, and efficient embassy for the twenty-first century.

Philip Breeden
Press Counselor
United States Embassy
London, UK

Martin Filler replies:

The UK’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has apparently reversed its stand on the proposed US embassy in London since last August, when The Evening Standard reported the agency’s opposition to the scheme. Not by any means did I disparage the sustainability of the KieranTimberlake design, merely the essentially decorative use of trees in the cut-out “sky garden” as environmental tokenism. However, one can understand the State Department’s defensiveness given the decidely mixed press and public reaction to the winning project. Modern, secure, and efficient this scheme may be, but it seems most unlikely to be perceived as welcoming.

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