Fact Sheet: United Nations Headquarters
- General Assembly Building
- Security Council Chamber
- Trusteeship Council Chamber
- Economic and Social Council Chamber
- Library Building
- Grounds and Furnishing
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As you are about to read the description of the Headquarters, we wish to inform you that the Organization has embarked in the most ambitious renovation to date. It was launched with a ground-breaking ceremony on 5 May 2008, marking the beginning of a five-year, $1.9 billion overhaul of the UN landmark complex.
The General Assembly Building is a sloping structure with concave sides, 380 feet long and 160 feet wide, topped with a shallow dome.
The north end, opening onto a landscaped plaza, is the main public entrance to the Headquarters complex. Beyond the lobby to the right is the small Meditation Room. Suspended from the ceiling above the stair landing connecting the lobby with the second-floor ceremonial entrance to the General Assembly Hall is a Foucault Pendulum.
In the northwest part of the building's lobby, next to the Meditation Room entrance, is a 15-by- 12- foot stained-glass panel by Russian-born artist Marc Chagall, symbolic of man's struggle for peace. The panel is dedicated to the memory of the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, and 15 others who died with him in a plane crash in the Congo in 1961. The panel was paid for by contributions from United Nations staff members. Next to the Chagall window is a bronze sculpture by United States sculptor and medal artist, Robert Cronbach, and plaques commemorating "military observers and members of the Secretariat who died in the line of duty while serving the United Nations on its missions of observation, mediation and conciliation". Nearby hangs the UN Flag retrieved from the site of the bombing at the Canal Hotel, UN Headquarters, Baghdad, Iraq, on 19 August 2003.
The blue, green and gold General Assembly Hall - 165 feet long by 115 feet wide, with a 75-foot ceiling - occupies the second, third and fourth floors. Representatives of Member States sit behind tables facing a raised speaker's rostrum and podium. From the viewer’s left to right sit the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly, and the Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management.
The Assembly Hall accommodates 193 delegations. Each delegation has six seats - three at the tables for full delegates and three behind them for their alternates.
All 1,898 seats are equipped with earphones, allowing the listener to "tune in" either to the language being spoken on the floor or to interpretations into any of the Assembly's six official languages -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The interpreters sit in glass walled booths overlooking the Hall. Television and film cameramen, broadcasters and other information personnel, and official verbatim reporters occupy similar booths.
Above and behind the speaker's rostrum are large panels listing the Member States of the Organization, with the corresponding results of votes also displayed. Delegates signal their countries' votes for or against a resolution, or their decision to abstain from a vote, by pressing green, red or yellow buttons on the tables in front of them.
The General Assembly first met in this Hall at the opening of its seventh regular annual session, on 14 October 1952.
On two lower levels of the building are a large conference room and four smaller conference rooms, radio and television studios, sound-recording facilities and a master communications control room. There is also a public area for visitors with various amenities.
The Conference Building, which connects the General Assembly and Secretariat Buildings, extends along the waterfront for 400 feet over the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. More than half a mile of teak railing from Burma runs along three sides of an outside terrace. On the second and third floors are the three Council Chambers.
The Security Council Chamber was furnished by Norway and designed by leading Norwegian architect, Arnstein Rynning Arneberg, and it’s easily identified by its central horse-shoe shape table. A large mural by Norwegian artist, Per Lasson Krohg, symbolizing the promise of future peace and individual freedom, dominates the east wall.
The Trusteeship Council Chamber, next door, was furnished by Denmark and designed by Danish architect, Finn Juhl. Against one wall is a nine-foot statue of a woman with arms upraised, carved from teak by sculptor/painter, Henrik Starcke, also of Denmark.
The Economic and Social Council Chamber was designed by Sven Gottfried Markelius, a modernist architect and designer from Sweden, and was also furnished by that country.
On the second floor, a large delegates' lounge occupies the north end, next to the Economic and Social Council Chamber. The glass north wall of the lounge overlooks the lawn, Japanese cherry trees and rose gardens.
Beneath the Council Chambers are three large conference rooms.
At the southwest corner of the United Nations grounds, linked to the Secretariat Building, is the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, dedicated on 16 November 1961 in honour of the late Secretary-General. The building was erected to meet the Organization's growing demands for library services and its construction was made possible by a gift of $6.6 million from the Ford Foundation. It was designed by the firm of Harrison, Abramovitz and Harris, architectural consultants to the United Nations. Constructed in white marble, glass and aluminum, the structure consists of six storeys - three above ground and three below.
The Library houses approximately 400,000 volumes in its general collection and, in addition, has several million United Nations documents. Its map section contains more than 80,000 maps and 1,500 atlases. The periodicals library offers over 10,000 official government publications and more than 4,000 non-official periodicals.
The flags of the 193 United Nations Member States provide a colourful, 500 foot wide curved approach to the Headquarters, along United Nations Plaza. The circular pool in front of the Secretariat Building, with a fountain in its centre, was built with a $50,000 gift from the children of the United States. The wavy pattern on the floor of the pool is formed by alternating bands of crushed white marble and black pebbles. The black stones were gathered from the beaches of Rhodes by the women and children of that Greek island, and donated to the United Nations. A bronze sculpture in memory of the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, was set at the edge of the pool in 1964. The abstract sculpture, entitled "Single Form", is the work of the English modernist sculptor and artist, Barbara Hepworth, and was donated by Jacob Blaustein, a former United States delegate to the United Nations.
A bronze statue by English abstract sculptor and artist, Henry Moore, "Reclining Figure: Hand", is set north of the Secretariat Building.
A monumental staircase presented by the State of New York in memory of the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, leads from the plaza in front of the public entrance of the General Assembly Building to the United Nations gardens. A memorial to Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as sculptures presented by Brazil, Germany, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia, are located in the gardens overlooking the East River.
In keeping with the international character of the Organization, materials for the Headquarters were selected from many lands. Limestone for the facings of the Assembly and Conference Buildings came from the United Kingdom; marble from Italy; office furniture and shelving from France; chairs and fabrics from Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic) and Greece; carpets from England, France and Scotland. In addition, tables were purchased from Switzerland; and various woods for interior finishing came from Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, the Philippines, Norway and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
The only artwork at United Nations Headquarters commissioned by the General Assembly is the painting entitled, "Titans", by the United States artist Lumen Martin Winter. The painting commemorates the 1970 World Youth Assembly, held at Headquarters. It was paid for by surplus voluntary funds donated for the Youth Assembly.