$1bn glass box: A monument to the UK-US special relationship

$1bn glass box: A monument to the UK-US special relationship
The special relationship may have taken a battering lately, but Washington is investing in London. It’s opening a new $1 billion glass box next to the River Thames, otherwise known as the city’s new US embassy.

Pictures released on Twitter on Wednesday show that the US is pretty proud of it. The 12-storey glass cube is a significant symbol for the bilateral relationship – despite Downing Street having no idea about Trump’s itinerary for his downgraded visit when he plans to open the diplobox officially.

But the site could suffer serious disruption when anti-Trump protesters gather to oppose his visit, which is expected some time in February. Although no date has been confirmed, groups are preparing to take to the streets with anti-Trump placards.

The South Bank site is part of the “Nine Elms” redevelopment and will be visited by around 1,000 people per day. There will be an estimated 800 staff at the “urban village” – a former industrial park.

The 1960s stone and concrete embassy in London’s upmarket Grosvenor Square – known as “Little America” during World War Two – is being left for the shiny new development.

The new site apparently “gives form to core democratic values of transparency, openness and equality.” In 2008, the US State Department described the planned embassy as “a physical manifestation of the long-term commitment to the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.”

The political, cultural and military alliance between London and Washington has been tested in recent months, as President Trump refuses to bend for Britain. Theresa May wanted Trump to apologize for retweeting videos posted by the far-right Britain First group. Instead he defended the Islamophobic videos and told her to concentrate on Britain.

The respective governments have also disagreed on foreign policy. President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to decertify Iran’s compliance with a multilateral nuclear deal have angered the May government.

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