The British Embassy is located on Wilhelmstrasse, in the Pariser Platz area of Berlin, where all new buildings are subject to very strict planning guidelines. It presents an open, contemporary and dignified frontage, whilst respecting the City's tradition of building massing, articulation, and materials. A ceremonial grand staircase leads from the entrance court to a winter garden around which the public elements of the Embassy are organized. These elements include a 200 seat conference room, the Ambassador's dining room, and a library. The winter garden is used as a venue for Embassy events such as receptions, trade fairs, and exhibitions.
The British embassy is the first, and to date, only embassy in Germany to be built under a Private Finance Initiative. Arteos, a Bilfinger Berger owned special purpose entity, financed and were to operate the embassy building for 30 years. A further 30-year extension is possible, following which the building will revert to British government ownership. In December 2006 Bilfinger sold their interest in the embassy to the UK firm Secondary Market Infrastructure Fund.
Conscious of the necessity for modern embassies to forge good and open relationships with the German public, Wilford endowed the main floor with a cafe, library and restaurant. The security zone used to begin on the fourth floor but, with the perceived increased risk from terrorists, the site is now totally secured, and the intended public spaces are no longer freely accessible.