UN HQ Building Reopens

Travel, Politics

UN HQ Building Reopens

The United Nations has started moving back into its historic Secretariat building, after three years of construction during which staff were dispersed in temporary offices across midtown Manhattan.

The ongoing 1.9 billion dollar renovation of the UN complex, aims to make it safer and more energy-efficient, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent, according to the Capital Master Plan in charge of the project.

Staff will be returning to the high-rise Secretariat building one floor at a time over the next months, finishing with the Secretary-General’s office in January.

Monday (23 July) staffers from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations walked into their new offices for the first time, and went to work setting up for business.

One peacekeeping officer said he was especially happy to be back spending his days inside a building that is considered an architectural landmark.

SOUNDBITE (English) Sébastien Lapierre, Integrated Mission Planning Officer, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations:
“The UN building is a cool building. Everybody likes it because of that, not only because of its history but because of its design. So that’s clearly one thing that I missed. Of course I think I also missed being close to all our colleagues, I think being scattered across midtown was a bit difficult.”

The new offices are brighter than before, according to staff, and many have walls painted in blue, green or yellow.

SOUNDBITE (English) Elizabeth Wanic, Assistant to the Director of the Africa II Division, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations:
“I’ve heard that yellow makes people insane, but we’re going to take this opportunity to put a bunch of pictures up on the wall so hopefully we can mitigate those effects.”

About 3,000 employees were moved into office space offsite during the renovation, with another 2,000 remaining on-site in the basement and other safe areas.

SOUNDBITE (English) Naresh Perinpanayagam, Political Officer, United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations:
“No, it’s great, it’s great. I think people have to have a bit of perspective as well, because I mean we’re the peacekeeping department so the majority of our staff living in the field are working in difficult conditions. So his is kind of paradise, compared to there.”

The renovation of the UN complex, including the Secretariat, Library, General Assembly and Conference buildings, is set to be completed in 2014. The complex was originally built between 1950 and 1952.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2012

Length: 3 mins

Country: United Nations


  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV)


  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV)