Step inside the US' new $1 billion embassy in London — the most expensive embassy ever constructed

US ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert "Woody" Johnson showed media around the new US embassy in London on Wednesday.

Slated to open January 16, the new 12-story glass embassy cost $1 billion — the most expensive embassy ever built.

It's been described as a crystalline "sugar cube" and a "modernist museum" that expresses openness and transparency — a far cry from the old fortresslike embassy that embodies a brutalist architectural design, according to the Washington Post.

But make no mistake — the new embassy is highly secure and, as CBS notes, has been described as an "urban fortress."

Take a look inside:

Step inside the United States' new $1 billion embassy in London
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Step inside the United States' new $1 billion embassy in London

This is the US' new embassy in London. Seated on the banks of the River Thames, it cost $1 billion and will open January 16.

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

The old US embassy, seen here, opened in 1960 and embodies a brutalist architectural design.

(Alex Segre via Getty Images)

But the new embassy is a 12-story glass cube without visible walls, which the designer, James Timberlake, said he wanted to exude "transparency, openness, equality."


Timberlake also said he was inspired by European castles — and there's even a moat.

The embassy rests on a hill about 100 feet back from the street, and the moat has waterfalls and deep trenches that could stop a truck bomb. It's even beset by a 6-inch blast wall, which adds to the large price tag.

The building will also produce more energy than it uses: the roof is filled with solar panels, and the white part of the exterior is a plastic polymer that increases it's energy efficiency.

Source: CBS, Washington Post

(REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

Here is the lobby entrance, which is adorned with the US State Department embossed seal and the names of every US ambassador to the United Kingdom.

According to the Post, the inside is adorned with "frosted- glass walkways, inspirational quotes from the Constitution, neon sculptures, reclaimed teak benches, Cornwall granite, [and] its own subterranean wastewater treatment plan."

The Evening Standard even called the inside of the embassy "stunning."

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

Here is a view of the consular lobby, decorated with a sculpture of a typical home in 1950's America.

(REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool)

In the consular section of the embassy is a huge photograph of the Winfield House garden, the official residence of the US ambassador to the UK.

(REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool)

The plastic polymer veil offers a view from the inside out.

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

There are also a dozen gardens in the embassy.

Above is the Canyonlands Garden, which represents the Grand Canyon and the south west desert landscapes of the US.

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

This is the visa and consular section.

(REUTERS/Alastair Grant/Pool)

And here's another angle.

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

They're still unpacking the consular section.

(REUTERS/Alistair Grant/Pool)

The embassy also has a bar.

(REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool)

There's a cafe too, which is decorated with glass tiles of the US State Department seal.


And finally, Ambassador Johnson will give you a tour in this short video.

Big news - today I can announce that our new American Embassy in London will be open to the public from 16th Januar…


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