The Qatari owners of the US Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square have unveiled plans to turn the Grade II-listed landmark into a five star hotel as the US government prepares for its move to Nine Elms next year.
Qatari Diar, a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority, will launch a public exhibition next Monday before submitting plans to Westminster City Council in May.
The proposals include a 137-room hotel with five restaurants, six flagship retail units, a spa – and a ballroom for 1,000 guests.
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British architect Sir David Chipperfield has been appointed to revive the embassy, which was designed and built in the 1950s by Finnish American modernist architect Eero Saarine.
He said: “We have studied the building’s design and its history as well as its surroundings to deliver an architecturally and socially coherent proposal, which will transform this purpose-built embassy into a world-class hotel.”
The Americans sold the embassy to Qatari Diar in 2009 after deciding it was in need of bigger and safer offices for its 1,000 staff. US ambassador Matthew Barzun and his staff will move to its new home in Nine Elms alongside the Dutch embassy next year.
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The move will end a 200-year connection with Grosvenor Square, which began in 1785 when the US send its first minister John Adams to the Court of St. James.
Barzun said: "A new chapter in our special relationship begins in early 2017 with our move to a new U.S. Embassy in Nine Elms. Grosvenor Square will write a new chapter of its own, one that I hope retains an imprint of America’s deep and abiding history here.”
The public exhibition for 30 Grosvenor Square will take place between 11 and 16 April at 24 Grosvenor Hill.
Qatari Diar is also developing Southbank Place in Waterloo alongside Canary Wharf Group, and East Village on the former Olympic site, which was merged today with another residential scheme in Elephant and Castle in a deal with Dutch fund APG and Delancey.