UN Headquarters renovations on schedule, project manager says

United Nations Headquarters building through the steel frame of the swing space for the General Assembly

3 June 2009 – The head of the $1.9 billion United Nations Headquarters makeover said today that the plan was on schedule for completion in 2013 and, although a little over now, could finish within budget.

Assistant Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein told a news conference in New York that the project – which includes relocating 6,500 UN staff members to a temporary building on the grounds or to rented spaces and completely renovating the 39-story Secretariat building – “remains on track.”

He said the General Assembly had voted a budget of $1.876 billion and, after the adoption of a UN-adopted accelerated strategy, the projected cost-to-complete is about $90 million over that figure.

“We were $219 million over budget last year, and we are still over-budget, but the gap is closing,” he said. “We continue to seek opportunities to align the project to the budget, and I remain confident that we will complete the project within the approved budget.”

He said relocation of staff began in April and will continue with about 400 staff moves per weekend through October. In the last weeks of October, the Secretary-General and his senior staff will move out and the renovation of the Secretariat will begin.

Of the 6,500 UN staff members who will be relocated by the end of October, approximately 5,000 work in the UN Headquarters complex. The 1,500 staff presently in offices outside the complex will also be moved to allow the departments to be better consolidated, he said.

He added that a new glass face to the iconic “glass curtain” look of the UN headquarters would “likely” be in place by the end of 2010.

“In some ways, the building will look almost done – from the outside, but with the new curtain wall in place, the interior work will just begin.”

Last February Mr. Adlerstein said the renovation project will result in a significant “greening” of the landmark complex that will reduce energy consumption and operating costs, as well as shrink the world body’s carbon footprint.

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