Work to begin on new US Embassy
6 May 2004
BERLIN – After a long battle over security measures, construction of the new US Embassy in Berlin is to start later this year.
“Despite security strictures, this will be an architecturally handsome building,” said the US Ambassador to Germany, Dan Coats this week announcing that the building work was to go ahead by November.
“This is a happy day and one we have been looking forward to for a long time,” he added.
Preparatory work of the new building could start as early as next week. American diplomats should begin working in the new embassy in 2008.
The US embassy building, which is to be constructed on a block land almost next to Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate, is one of the last diplomatic missions to the built in the city, which regained its status as German capital following unification almost 14 years ago.
Building the new US embassy, however, has been dogged by delays, partly caused by funding problems but also because of the need for tough security measures.
At one point, tensions between Washington and Germany emerged over the US’s demands for the roads surrounding the new building to be redirected as a way of beefing up embassy security.
Under the compromise, a back street from the embassy will shifted by eight metres and the nearby Holocaust Memorial will give up a sliver of land.
In return, the US will provide a broad sidewalk with trees fronting on the Holocaust Memorial.
As the terrorist threat to US installations had grown, security has turned the existing US embassy, which is located a short walk from the new building, into something of a fortress.
Officials rejected proposals that the embassy be built in a more scheduled area.
The new building, which is to have a limestone façade, is to be constructed on land bought in 1931 and will be located near to the French, Russian, and British embassies. Its location near Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust memorial also means that it is close to some of the Germany capital’s prime tourist attractions.
Building of the embassy will close one of the last gaps in the area near the Brandenburg Gate with the old embassy hit by wartime bombing campaigns.
The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 meant that during Cold War the area surrounding the Brandenburg Gate, including the US embassy land, became part of what was known as no-man’s land.
The site remained cut off from the eastern and western parts of the city until the Berlin Wall was breached in November 1989.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: German news