Press Conference by Executive Director of Capital Master Plan

2 February 2009

Press Conference by Executive Director of Capital Master Plan

2 February 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference by executive director of Capital Master Plan

The ambitious Capital Master Plan (CMP) to renovate the United Nations Secretariat building in New York should be completed by 2013 within the approved $1.876 billion budget, Executive Director Michael Alderstein said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Renovation of the landmark Secretariat building would begin at the close of the General Assembly’s annual general debate in early October, Mr. Alderstein said, adding that construction of a temporary building on the North Lawn to house United Nations staff and offices during the renovation period would be finished by then, having begun in May 2008.

“In brief, the CMP is on schedule and on track,” he said, noting that the Secretary-General, his staff and offices currently in the Conference Building would move into the temporary structure until 2011.  It would then be reconfigured for the Assembly’s use until 2013.  During the five-year restoration, other staff would be moved to existing offices outside the United Nations complex and to off-site locations secured through three new leases.  The media would be relocated to the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

He said cost overruns for the project had been estimated at $219 million last year.  Since then, the Assembly had approved an accelerated strategy proposed in the Secretary-General’s fifth annual progress report, cutting the extra costs down to $97.5 million.  “We are still over budget, but the gap has been halved and I remain confident that we will complete the project within the approved budget.”  So far the Organization had received more than $1 billion from Member States, many of them paying their respective share of the five-year renovation budget in full.

During the renovation, the building would be gutted and its outdated air conditioning, lighting, wiring and plumbing replaced with more efficient technology, he said.  It would also become far more “green”, consuming 44 per cent less energy than in the past.  The outer wall of the complex, a single-glazed glass curtain, would be replaced with impermeable double-glazed glass that would turn sunlight into energy.  Automated interior wall shades and blinds would be installed to retain more heat and new insulation for roofs and exterior walls would reduce heat transfer year round.

He said new occupancy sensors would automatically shut off lights in unoccupied rooms, while a “daylight harvesting system” would regulate artificial light in accordance with natural light levels.  “The combination of a more secure building envelope and a higher technology heating and air conditioning system will save operating costs and lower our carbon footprint for decades.”

Asked about the ability of developing-world companies to bid for subcontracts for the project, the Executive Director said the contract bidding process was in compliance with the Procurement Division’s rules and open to contractors worldwide.  Most labour contracts would likely be awarded to United States bidders because they would be the least expensive, but construction materials would be imported from around the world.

He said procurement opportunities had been posted on the website of Skanska, the CMP construction manager, at trade shows and through regional outreach efforts to ensure they reached vendors in developing nations, as well as those with economies in transition.  The winners’ names would be posted on that site.

Asked if the United Nations would break with its past policy of providing journalists with rent-free office space, he said discussions on whether to begin charging journalists rent were under way, pointing out that the Organization was increasingly required to house staff in rented space outside its main complex at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.