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News April 2010

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April 27, 2010

On April 27, an interested audience was treated to a detailed briefing on renovation plans for the United Nations Headquarters (1947–1950) in Manhattan. The event was presented by the Skycraper Museum, in cooperation with the Architectural League of New York and DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State.

Four design experts, of the many involved, delineated the major proposals in the $1.9 billion United Nations Capital Master Plan, which calls for renovation of all structures in the complex. Architect Michael Adlerstein, the UN’s executive director of the plan, presented an overview of the project, which is slated for completion in 2013. Following that, John Gering of HLW International, architects and engineers, summarized plans for reorganizing the office space, mainly in the Secretariat tower, updating it from the c. 1950 pattern of walled perimeter offices while meeting current safety, accessibility and sustainability objectives.

Keith Fitzpatrick of Syska Hennessey Group outlined proposals to redo the complex’s greatly outdated mechanical systems, in the process sharply reducing its energy demands. Robert Heintges of Heintges & Associates, outlined procedures for the total replacement of the pioneering curtain walls, which have deteriorated beyond repair, to meet present standards of insulation value and daylight transmission and restore the carefully researched original appearance of the exterior, before heat-reducing films were applied to it and before its spandrel glass disintegrated.

A dividend of the event was the chance to experience the auditorium in the 1967 Ford Foundation building, designed by Roche Dinkeloo. We rarely attend an architecture event where the audience enjoys first-class comfort in leather-covered armchairs.
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photo: K. Randall