The original building at 70 Wilhelmstraße, was known as the Palais Strousberg and designed by August Orth. It was built in 1868 by the railway magnate Bethel Henry Strousberg. In December 1884 the UK bought the site after renting it for some years after Strousberg's bankruptcy.
The British embassy is the first, and to date the only embassy in Germany to be built under a Private Finance Initiative. Arteos, a BilfingerBerger owned special purpose entity financed and were to operate the embassy building for 30 years. In December 2006 BilfingerBerger sold their interest in the embassy to Semperian Investments, then known as Secondary Market Infrastructure Fund Limited.
Michael Wilford & Partners wanted to give people an insight into the work of the Embassy hence the façade has been cut wide open to reveal the circular purple conference drum and the triangular pale blue Information Centre. The courtyard with its oak tree is also visible from the street, giving passers-by an indication of the open spaces and light within the building and therefore not a typical embassy building of the past.
The embassy is 100% owned by Semperian with FM services provided by Johnson Controls and continues to be managed by the BilfingerBerger. There are just over 100 embassy staff to oversee and ensure that the building is operational-friendly which is driven by the JCI team:
- Estates management
- Security services
There have been a number of energy related initiatives which have led to a reduction in energy consumption. In 2009 we the British embassy achieved the BREEAM, the leading and most widely used environmental assessment for buildings and in 2010 it received the BREEAM in-use International Award. The embassy building received a ‘Very good rating for Part 1: Asset Performance and Part 2: Building Management Performance.