In New York, UN Headquarters opens doors this weekend for architecture lovers

5 October 2006

The Security Council chamber, the inner sanctum where the United Nations body makes decisions on international peace and security, will be opened to architecture buffs this weekend as part of a special guided tour of the UN's landmark headquarters in New York.

Three 45-minute tours, the first intended especially for lovers of architecture, will be available on both Saturday and Sunday (at 10:30, 11:30 and 12:30), led by an architect from the team responsible for the proposed renovation of the site.

The General Assembly conference halls, which will also be shown on the tours, and the Security Council chamber are considered historic spaces, noteworthy for being “mid-century interpretations of the ancient concept of a legislative-style space,” according to a statement from the UN’s guided tour unit.

Besides the Visitors’ Lobby – “an exhilarating space with a real 1950’s ‘boomerang’ design and a very unusual façade” – the less often seen Delegates’ Entrance will also be on the tour route.

“The space, which has an unusual configuration, gives insight into how the many officials, employees and visitors at the UN are able to use the facility for various purposes, a reflection of the success of the original design concept,” the statement said.

The UN was designed by a team of 11 eminent architects – collaboration being preferred over an international competition – led by American Wallace K. Harrison that began work in early 1947. The other team members were Nikolai D. Bassov, Gaston Brunfaut, Ernest Cormier, Charles E. Le Corbusier, Liang Seu-Cheng, Sven Markelius, Oscar Niemayer, Howard Robertson, G. A. Soilleux, and Julio Vilamajo.

This weekend’s tours are the handiwork of openhousenewyork (OHNY), an educational organization devoted to sharing New York’s architectural, urban and historical development by providing access to significant sites. It was inspired by the success of similar events over the past decade in other cities, including London and Toronto.

According to the guided tour unit, the tours are by reservation only and interested people can call 212-963-5420 to book a place. Children under the age of five will not be allowed to join.


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