Ahead of Assembly hall renovation, UN honours designers of its iconic headquarters

24 April 2013

With an extensive renovation of the great General Assembly Hall imminent, United Nations officials today paid tribute to architect Oscar Niemeyer and other members of the UN board of design in a ceremony that revisited the inception of the iconic Headquarters project.

“Our architects were ahead of the times,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he helped open the proceedings, noting that the Secretariat building was the first based on its particular glass and steel structure. “I hope that we will follow their example and stay at the vanguard when it comes to solving global problems,” he added.

Mr. Ban recalled that a Board of Design was created to create a complex that would express the vision of the United Nations set out in its Charter, bringing together 11 architects from around the world.

The youngest and last surviving member of the Board, the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, died in December 2012 at the age of 104. At that time Mr. Ban noted that he was responsible for many iconic structures throughout the world.

Recounting the dynamics of the design process, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, said that the Board architects fashioned an edifice to lift the spirits and stir the soul.

“As we prepare to close the General Assembly Hall for the Capital Master Plan renovations, we can reflect on the role our buildings have played in promoting mutual respect and sovereign equality in multilateralism, encouraging us to ‘live together in peace with one another as good neighbours,’ he said, citing the UN Charter.

“This Pantheon of mankind has seen confrontation and compromise, triumphs of justice and tests of will, purposefulness and perseverance. These walls have echoed through the years with the words of statesmen dedicated to advancing the quest for peace,” he added.

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