The UN headquarters in New York are being renovated from top to bottom to make the facilities more energy-efficient. Calling Ty Pennington of television's 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.'
United Nations, N.Y.
No, John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, is not getting his wish: All the vacant floors at the UN's iconic aquamarine-glass headquarters and the trucks removing whole departments to other New York sites do not mean that the top third of the structure is about to be lopped off.
Mr. Bolton, you might recall, once famously quipped that the world wouldn't notice if the UN high-rise lost its top 10 floors.
Instead, the UN "campus," as officials here call it, is getting a top-to-bottom make-over to bring the complex, designed by 20th-century architects Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, into the 21st century.
Gone will be the asbestos, the firetraps, the leaky ceilings, and the energy inefficiencies by the time the entire $2 billion renovation is completed (expected to be in 2014). Taking their place at the forefront of the international battle against global warming, the renovated UN buildings will cut pre-renovation energy consumption by almost half.
In the meantime, some high-level diplomatic maneuverings are about to take place. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will move before the end of the month from his lofty 37th-floor offices to a stark white, Wal-Mart-big-box-like temporary structure built for the occasion on the campus's north park.
"I don't think he minds taking a temporary office" in a squat, windowless warehouse, "especially when the whole purpose is to give the UN a more efficient building," says a member of Mr. Ban's support staff, noting that Ban has championed the cause of addressing climate change.
Much of Ban's communications staff, on the other hand, will be relegated to basement quarters under the First Avenue UN library.
The Security Council Secretariat will join Ban in the temporary structures – although Security Council sessions are expected to still be held in the existing chambers throughout the updating.