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SIS Building: Wikis


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The SIS building at Vauxhall Cross, London, seen from Vauxhall Bridge
The SIS building, seen from Millbank
The opposite side of the building, seen from Vauxhall Cross

The SIS Building, also commonly known as the MI6 Building, is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service (otherwise known as "MI6"). It is known within the intelligence community as Legoland and also as "Babylon-on-Thames" due to its resemblance to an ancient Babylonian ziggurat.[1][2][3] It is located at 85, Albert Embankment in the south western part of central London, on the bank of the River Thames beside Vauxhall Bridge. Coordinates: 51°29′14″N 0°07′28″W / 51.487263°N 0.124323°W / 51.487263; -0.124323


Design and construction

Designed by Terry Farrell and built by John Laing[4], the developer Regalian Properties approached the government in 1987 to assess their interest in the proposed building. At the same time, MI6's sister service MI5 was seeking alternative accommodation and collocation of the two organisations was considered. This proposal was ultimately abandoned due to the lack of buildings of adequate size (existing or proposed) and the security considerations of providing a single target for attacks. In July 1988 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher approved the purchase of the new building for the SIS. The government proposed to pay for the building outright in order to maintain secrecy over the intended use of the site — at this time the existence of MI6 was not officially acknowledged.

The building's design was reviewed to incorporate the necessary protection for Britain's foreign intelligence-gathering agency. While the details and cost of construction have been released, approximately ten years after the original National Audit Office (NAO) report was written, some of the service's special requirements remain classified. The NAO report Thames House and Vauxhall Cross omits certain details, describing the cost and problems of certain modifications but not their nature. Rob Humphrey's London: The Rough Guide suggests one of these omitted modifications is a tunnel beneath the Thames to Whitehall.

SIS Building under construction in 1991

The NAO put the final cost at £135.05m for site purchase and the basic building or £152.6m including the service’s special requirements.

2000 attack

On the evening of 20 September 2000 the building was attacked with a rocket, which caused superficial damage.[5]

Cultural references

The building has appeared in The Tailor of Panama as well as the James Bond films GoldenEye, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. In the opening sequence of The World Is Not Enough, Bond chases a suspect from the building down the Thames. The Daily Telegraph claimed that the British Government prevented some filming in front of the SIS Building, citing a security risk. However, a Foreign Office spokesperson repudiated the claims and expressed displeasure with the misleading article.[6]

A steampunk pastiche of the building featured in the comic book League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as the headquarters of British Military Intelligence in 1898.

See also


External links



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