Ground breaking set for May in overhaul of UN Headquarters

Ground breaking set for May in overhaul of UN Headquarters

Michael Adlerstein
Ground breaking for the construction of a temporary venue for international meetings, the most visible piece of the intricate five-year renovation of the landmark United Nations Headquarters in New York, will take place in May, the head of the effort announced today.

Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the project, known officially as the Capital Master Plan (CMP), told reporters that “significant progress” had been made since the General Assembly approved a $1.9 billion accelerated strategy in December.

Beside the finalization of plans for the temporary conference building, all necessary “swing” space” for the temporary relocation of 5,000 displaced staff members has now been secured, Mr. Adlerstein said.

“Design work for the interior fit-out is also near completion,” he added, while the outfitting of “swing space” offices was already under way.

The temporary conference building will be built on the lawn area north of the UN complex between First Avenue and the East River, and will replace the General Assembly, Security Council and other meeting spaces in turn.

It will also house the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and related staff throughout the renovation, Mr. Adlerstein added.

Other staff will be accommodated in newly-leased space in Midtown and Long Island City, as well as redistributed throughout current Headquarters facilities. The largest “swing space,” on Madison Ave and 46th Street, will take in 1,820 workers.

Library resources and staff will remain in place in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library for the duration of the renovations, he said.

The Capital Master Plan aims to bring the five-decade old Secretariat and adjacent buildings, which are plagued by leaks, safety violations and outdated systems, up to code and to high standards of efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Calling coordination with New York City “very positive,” Mr. Adlerstein said that the UN had held negotiations with the city officials and had voluntarily agreed to comply with the municipal fire and safety codes from which it is exempt.

“This framework will take into account the important interest of New York City while preserving the privileges and immunities of the UN without reservation,” he said.