US Embassy in sale talks

The US government is in talks to sell its imposing Mayfair embassy to a property investment company backed by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

Chelsfield Partners is believed to be the frontrunner to secure the sale of the building thought to be worth between £300m-400m.

The talks are complicated as the US embassy is not expected to relocate to Battersea until 2016 and the move still needs Congressional approval.

The development of the site could further be hampered by a possible listing by English Heritage as the only building in the UK designed by the celebrated Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.

Meanwhile the shortlist of firms in the new embassy’s design competition has been announced and includes two former winners of the prestigious Pritzker Prize, Richard Meier and Thom Mayne. Only American firms with the necessary security clearance were permitted to submit entries.

The firms will present to a panel of judges comprising British and American architects, diplomats and academics, including Lord Richard Rogers.

Architects have been briefed to produce designs for an embassy that is environmentally sustainable.