Secretary-General Hails Secretariat’s Renovation as ‘Rebirth of an Architectural Masterpiece for the Twenty-first Century’

21 December 2012

Secretary-General Hails Secretariat’s Renovation as ‘Rebirth of an Architectural Masterpiece for the Twenty-first Century’

21 December 2012
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Hails Secretariat’s Renovation as ‘Rebirth of an Architectural

Masterpiece for the Twenty-first Century’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the ceremony marking the completion of the renovation of the Secretariat Building in New York, on 21 December:

Thank you all for being here today.

This is a historic moment.  The United Nations is open for business in our beautifully renovated Headquarters.  Today we celebrate the rebirth of an architectural masterpiece for the twenty-first century.

We mark a major milestone towards the completion of the Capital Master Plan (CMP).  Systems, spaces, security and safety features have all been transformed.  The renovation has given new life to the Secretariat tower.  The offices are now open and bright.  The building is safer, greener and more efficient.  We have reduced energy and water consumption by more than 50 per cent.  The United Nations is leading by example in sustainable development.

At the same time, we have also shown great respect for the original vision of the architects.  Today, the building remains a symbol of hope, inside and out.  In 1949, the American writer E.B. White, watching these buildings rise on the former slaughterhouse site, described the United Nations as “the greatest housing project of them all … to shelter … all Governments, and to clear the slum called war.”  The modernization of the complex will help us to better fulfil that global mission.

I would like to acknowledge several people and organizations that have made this achievement possible.  First, the staff of the United Nations; thank you for your flexibility, patience and abiding dedication during the time you spent in swing spaces, apart from colleagues.  Second, the CMP team, which falls under Under-Secretary-General Yukio Takasu and is headed by Assistant Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein; the CMP is a small office but has accomplished a big task.

Third, I would like to acknowledge the former senior United Nations officials who laid the groundwork for this project.  My predecessor, Kofi Annan, put forward the initial proposal for the CMP.  The renovation was also shepherded from concept to completed design by two other Under-Secretaries-General for Management — Alicia Bárcena and Angela Kane.

Finally, and most important, I thank the Member States, including the host country and our great host city, [the United States and New York] respectively.  In an era of severe budgetary constraints, Member States have provided significant resources and material support.  We are truly indebted to them for this investment in our Organization — and in all of us.  We should not take this gift for granted.  The best way for us to repay this debt is through our performance.

Of course, the CMP is not finished.  In less than 90 days, we will reopen the Conference Building.  Then we will begin work on the General Assembly Building.  But today, let us marvel at the renewal of this landmark.  Every day, thousands of staff, delegates and visitors pass through these halls.  Every day, we seek to advance the cause of peace, development and justice.  Today begins a new era in this vital work of service to the world’s people.

Thank you.  Congratulations to all who have collaborated to make this great achievement possible.

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