In any generation, a building can live many lives, and change is coming to one particular building in Belgravia’s Grosvenor Square.
The current home of the US Embassy (a building which has seen its fair share of organised protests outside its walls, including the recent rallies held in anger at the way Donald Trump carried out his surprisingly successful election campaign) is set to be turned into a luxury hotel.
The news concerning the embassy building was announced in November 2016, after a Qatari-backed scheme to convert it won planning permission from Westminster City Council.
The plans involve turning the current US embassy building at 30 Grosvenor Square, which is Grade II listed, into a 137-room hotel complete with spa, a ballroom, fine dining restaurants and six upmarket shops. The plans are backed by developer Qatari Diar, the property investment arm of the state’s sovereign wealth fund, while UK architect, Sir David Chipperfield, has been called in to oversee the plans.
From next year, the US Embassy will move to its new location at Nine Elms – into a brand new building. The US Embassy is reportedly one of the most secure buildings in London, with a raft of security measures deployed to protect the building. These security measures – which include barriers and bollards – will be removed when the embassy heads to its new premises.
Qatari Diar has said the removal of such security measures will help to revitalise and re-energise the area, transforming Grosvenor Square and enhancing its appeal for local residents and visitors alike.
The renovation of the premises is set to form part of a £1 billion development project. Originally designed by American-Finnish modernist architect, Eero Saarinen, the swooping, iconic eagle which sits atop the building will remain in position, while a planned extension will not affect its current façade.
The US Embassy has called Grosvenor Square its home since 1960. Eight years later, it was at the centre of anti-Vietnam war protests, which famously turned violent. But now it is set to find its new home over at Nine Elms, an area which has witnessed a great deal of regeneration in recent years, including the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.
Renovation work will begin soon after the embassy staff move to their new premises, scheduled for early 2017. We expect the new hotel, once open, to breathe new life into both Grosvenor Square and the wider Belgravia area.