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CMP – The renovated Conference Building is open

Posted: Tuesday, 2 April 2013, New York | Author: Capital Master Plan

Th ree years after it was closed and then stripped down to its concrete and steel skeleton, the renovation of the Conference Building has reached substantial completion. As of 1 April 2013 its doors are open again for delegates and staff.

W hile the interior of the Secretariat tower has undergone a radical change from its 1950s setting to an open plan office environment, the changes in the Conference Building are fewer and more subtle. Preservation of the fine character-defining architectural features has been the guiding principle here. The council chambers, conference rooms and concourses once again radiate the freshness and optimism the building exuded when it was originally opened in 1952. Faded colours shine brightly again. The various woods used for tables, wall batons or ceiling grids have been carefully refurbished and give their warm hues. Almost forgotten details of Per Krohg’s mural “Phoenix Rising from the Ashes” in the Security Council Chamber, covered by grime from tobacco smoke for decades, are visible once again. 

Less visible are the all-new infrastructure and life safety systems, systems for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, broadcast and simultaneous interpretation. Whereas the original architects of the UN compound had anticipated that the new Headquarters would host 700 conferences per year, the CMP in designing the mechanical systems took into account that the complex actually hosts approximately 8,000 conferences annually. More fresh air and better air conditioning will be noticed by all users of the Conference Building. A third passenger elevator makes vertical transportation faster and more comfortable. A larger Staff Café on the 4th floor and more private dining spaces complement the renovation of the Delegates’ Dining Room and its kitchen facilities.

The renovated mural The new building systems contribute to a much more sustainable Headquarters which upon the completion of the CMP will consume at least 50 % less energy as compared to conditions before the renovation. That means a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 45 %.

Like the Secretariat Building, the Conference Building received an all-new exterior glass curtain wall. Looking like the original glass façade, it provides far better insulation and a higher level of security against blasts. Enhanced security is of special importance, since the Conference Building is partly cantilevered over the six lanes of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. The building has been hardened with a lot of steel, and Conference Rooms 1 to 3 have been redesigned to ensure the security of their occupants. A welcome side effect of this redesign has been the creation of the East Lounge, a light-flooded space on the first floor with magnificent views of the East River. 

The renovated Conference Building is free of asbestos, accessible for persons with disabilities, and up to the applicable Host City building and fire safety codes. 

Final commissioning of the sophisticated electronics is underway. The various occupants and functions are being relocated back into the renovated building throughout the month of April. By the end of the month the building will be fully in use, allowing the CMP to reach another important milestone in the renovation of the UN Headquarters and close down the General Assembly Building for construction in May.