UN renovation ‘on track and on schedule,’ official says

Michael Adlerstein

5 May 2010 – Two years have passed since ground was broken for the renovation of the landmark United Nations Headquarters in New York to make it safer and greener, and the process is “on track and on schedule,” the official in charge of the overhaul said today.

The nearly $2 billion renewal process for the entire UN complex – plagued by leaks, safety violations and outdated systems – is set to wrap up in time by 2013, with the renovation of the Secretariat tower scheduled to be completed in 2012, Capital Master Plan (CMP) Executive Director Michael Adlerstein told the UN News Centre.

Some 5,600 people have been moved out of the UN compound and into various so-called swing spaces in midtown Manhattan.

“The good news is that the space works well and that there is a general consensus that the space is functional and achieves the objective of keeping the UN operational,” Mr. Adlerstein noted.

With staff scattered in various buildings, he stressed that “it’s very important to us that the Secretariat renovation get completed so we can bring the staff back home.”

The official said that the next round of overhauls should not wait another six decades, and that the world body should undertake “less traumatic” renovations roughly every decade.

At the ground-breaking ceremony two years ago, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged to make the complex “a model of environmental stewardship” by reducing the UN’s electrical and water usage and by removing harmful materials that were used in the original construction.

“As we conduct this work, we will never lose sight of the original purpose of our founders when they erected these buildings almost 60 years ago: promoting a safer, more peaceful and more just world,” Mr. Ban added.

Upon the completion of the CMP, the UN compound will be “extremely green and sustainable and well-designed,” slashing water consumption and the world body’s carbon footprint by more than 40 per cent, Mr. Adlerstein pointed out today.

“It won’t be wasteful as we’ve become over the year in recent decades, but it still requires constant maintenance and observation,” he added.

Renovations are set to ramp up in the coming weeks and will be much more visible, as the Secretariat building is fully emptied of employees and scaffolding is put up. This “high-gear” phase is set to last for the next two years, the Executive Director said.


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