The US embassy is not an inspiring building. Designed by the celebrated Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen—responsible for the otherwise remarkable structures of Washington’s Dulles Airport terminal and St Louis’s famous archway—the Chancery, completed in 1960, is nothing but a colossal industrial brick flanking one end of Grosvenor Square. It can only be described as “pre-Ikea.”
Not to say that it doesn’t have its charm. The statue of Ronald Reagan (who else?) that towers outside the entrance smiles so earnestly that you feel as though you’re entering a theme park based on the Pax Americana that ruled from the space race to the destruction of the Berlin Wall. (Check out the statue of Eisenhower on the other side of the square.)
Late last night, that theme park was in full swing. Over a thousand people shuffled into the Embassy a little after 10pm to watch the election results come in. Embassy officials, diplomats, journalists, expatriates and guests (including Andrew Marr and Ian Hislop) mingled over cocktails and canapés and gazed intermittently at the various screens broadcasting the live coverage.
At an event sponsored by McDonald’s, there were so many opportunities to act American that it was almost a burden to keep track of the race. There was a concert downstairs…