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Thread: Renovation of the UN - by Fumihiko Maki with S.O.M.

  1. #136
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    U.N. and Bloomberg in Disagreement Over New Turtle Bay Building


    By JILL GARDINER - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    April 18, 2006

    Less than a week after Mayor Bloomberg went public with his plans to push for a new 35-story tower for the United Nations next to its current building at Turtle Bay, the head of the organization renovation project said the organization doesn't need it.

    The assistant secretary general who oversees the renovation of the United Nations building, Fritz Reuter, told reporters yesterday that the world body did not need the tower to temporarily house staff while it renovates its dilapidated building.

    "I can't wait for them another two or three years to get the approvals and build this building," Mr. Reuter said. "Chunks of plaster are falling down."

    The 35-story project, which would be built on a playground on First Avenue, was all but rejected in 2004, when the state Legislature refused to consider it. Much of the opposition to the plan came from those who do not favor the U.N.'s policies.

    Mr. Bloomberg is lobbying for the building again, saying it would be an important economic shot in the arm for the city. But Mr. Reuter said that even if the building was proposed as a permanent site, the United Nations would not move there unless it was offered better lease terms than it now has. Its lease runs until 2024.

    If the mayor wins Albany approval for the new building, the city would press the United Nations to move out of two buildings it leases from the United Nations Development Corporation, a city and state public benefit corporation, and consolidate at the new site. That would allow the city to sell the two buildings or rent them for far more than they are getting now.

    "Those are two very valuable assets," an executive director at the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, Glenn Markman, said. "I couldn't pick a number out of thin air, but those are two desirable buildings that would command top dollar."

    The United Nations's plan is to construct a temporary warehouse style building on its own property and house staff there for different phases of the seven-year, $1.6 billion renovation.

    A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, Stuart Loeser, said the city does not negotiate rents in public, but that a new building would be good for the city and the United Nations.


    2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  2. #137

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    How ironic.

  3. #138

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    Building for the future
    Jonathan Glancey
    April 18, 2006 12:33 PM

    The United Nations is not exactly a puppet of Washington, although its famous headquarters building, completed in 1952, is located in mid-Manhattan facing the East river. The organisation looks to the United States government for much of its finance. But now a $1.6bn project to restore the exhausted building complex, planned originally by a multinational team of architects led by the American, Wallace K Harrison, but headed, in design terms, by Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, who went on to sculpt Brasilia, is being held up, by ... Washington.

    The UN complex is a glorious time warp, an international wonderland, its interiors pickled in a curious kind of cold war-meets-Festival of Britain aspic. For fans of authentic period design, it is a slap-up banquet for the eyes. Here halls and corridors are all but unchanged since 1964 when Che Guevara came, dressed in customary battle fatigues, to hold forth against the unfairness of US foreign policy.

    For those who work here, though, the UN HQ is less historic and romantic, than a very tired cluster of buildings indeed. Surveys of the complex, constructed under the aegis of 1938 Manhattan building codes, have repeatedly drawn attention to the use of dangerous asbestos insulation and lead paint, to antique plumbing and venerable electric systems, to a lack of sprinklers, frequent power shutdowns and leaking roofs. Plaster from the ceiling of the general assembly hall fell to the floor last October, according to the New York Times, just days before 150 presidents, prime ministers and monarchs gathered here to commemorate the UN's 60th anniversary. The UN has, in fact, threatened to move to almost anywhere, including cruise ships, as a temporary measure, while a full renovation led by Louis Frederick Reuter IV, a New York architect and director appointed by Kofi Annan, the UN general secretary, is carried out.

    The first instalment of $100m necessary to get the work going by April 1 was blocked by the United States, the one and only country to see a reason to hold up renovation work. John R Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, says that the United States has offered $23.5m, but no more. "I don't think the justification has been made yet on the full $100m," he said, adding, significantly, "the United States thinks that $23.5m is a lot of money and should carry a pretty good distance until we can have decisions by the general assembly on some of the other critical questions, like what strategy the organisation wants to follow."

    Read that last sentence again: " ... like what strategy the organisation wants to follow". Here is the nub of the matter. The cost involved is chicken-feed to a government that can afford to spend $35m for each of its F-18 fighter aircraft, or fight an unwinnable "war" in Iraq. "Bonkers" Bolton, a George W Bush placeman, has long been a staunch critic of the UN. At a speech given in 1994 to the Global Structures Convocation hosted by the World Federalist Association, he said: "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States." He also joked: "The secretariat building in New York has 38 storeys. If it lost 10 storeys, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."

    As the biggest contributor to UN finances, the US government is expected to pay for 22% of the estimated cost of rebuilding works on the East river. If it has to pay that much, it wants even greater control over the UN agenda than it has today. When Che Guevara addressed the UN here in December 1964, he said: "Of all the burning problems to be dealt with by this assembly, one of special significance for us ... is that of peaceful coexistence among states with different economic and social systems. Much progress has been made in the world in this field. But imperialism, particularly US imperialism, has attempted to make the world believe that peaceful coexistence is the exclusive right of the earth's great powers." Today, John R Bolton might only bridle at Guevara's use of the plural: there is only one great power on earth today, and it doesn't much like political sniping from inside the UN.

    Perhaps the UN headquarters ought to be somewhere else altogether. New York might be a kind of global melting pot, but, ideologically, the rest of the US is not. In the late 40s, however, the land beside the East river was donated by John D Rockefeller at a time when the US was, justifiably, revelling in its role as the saviour of Europe and south-east Asia from brutal dictatorships. The construction cost of the tripartite complex, characterised by its 39-storey green-tinted glass and white marble tower, was financed by an interest-free loan of $65m made by the United States government.

    If the UN was to leave New York, its influence on the US would be even less than it is today. Soon enough, the "smoke 'em out" regime of George W Bush will go and, who knows, the US might just possibly move towards an altruistic foreign policy again as it did, to an extent, between Pearl Harbour and the Korean war. The UN building, from that knight-in-shining-armour period, is an architectural reminder of international collaboration, of democratic concern. It deserves to be brought back to full, functioning life, a self-consciously Modern and internationalist building, its would-be stylish halls resounding to any number of opinions, and cared for by those with the cash, as well as the expensive construction skills, to make it work. Go on Washington: open your purse, and make everyone's day.

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/...4/post_35.html

  4. #139
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    U.N. resolves to find office space
    Plans to move 550 workers to new site



    Julie Satow
    Published on April 24, 2006

    The United Nations is planning to shift 20% of its workforce, or nearly 550 employees, into 200,000 square feet of office space outside of its East Side campus. The U.N., aiming to make the move by the second quarter of 2007, will search in Manhattan and the other boroughs and wants to sign a four- to five-year lease by the end of 2006.

    "It will probably be back-office workers" who go to the new offices, says Fritz Reuter, the assistant secretary general who oversees the U.N.'s capital master plan.

    The organization is conducting a study to determine which of its workers could be moved off site without creating too much disruption, he says.

    In addition to securing the new off-campus offices, the U.N. will erect a temporary building near its historic U.N. Secretariat, which is to undergo a $1.6 billion overhaul.

    The Secretariat will be renovated in phases. Employees who do not move into the off-campus space will shuttle back and forth between the Secretariat and the temporary building while their offices are being upgraded.

    The U.N. needs the General Assembly to approve $100 million in spending to finance the 200,000-square-foot lease and other expenses related to the capital master plan. It hopes to complete its study in the next two months. Brokerage firm Newmark Knight Frank will soon initiate a search for the space.


    2006 Crain Communications Inc.

  5. #140
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    In addition to securing the new off-campus offices, the U.N. will erect a temporary building near its historic U.N. Secretariat, which is to undergo a $1.6 billion overhaul.

    The Secretariat will be renovated in phases. Employees who do not move into the off-campus space will shuttle back and forth between the Secretariat and the temporary building while their offices are being upgraded.

    I am still confuse... Are they going to built a new 'temporary' building or not.

  6. #141

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    No, they're going to lease space outside of the UN campus instead.

  7. #142
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenie
    No, they're going to lease space outside of the UN campus instead.
    ...AND build temporary offices on their lawn:

    In addition to securing the new off-campus offices, the U.N. will erect a temporary building near its historic U.N. Secretariat, which is to undergo a $1.6 billion overhaul.
    Expect something like a trailer park type set up.

  8. #143
    Forum Veteran macreator's Avatar
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    This is going to look like crap for years.

    And to think, we could have had a new UN tower right next door which would have gone great with the new Con Ed site development.

    I hate Albany! Anyone up for secession from New York State?

  9. #144
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    Exactly.

    Those morons were actually Jewish NY State Senators from Brooklyn and Queens. They thought by disapproving the UN's plans, they would send a message to the UN of their displeasure for what they believed was the UN's bias against Israel.
    But has that changed anything so far? NO.

    The only thing they've accomplished is to deprived NYC of a nice new office tower and revenue. And also now, the UN will be competing with other companies for the precious few office space that's left in the city, which will drive up costs and which inevitably will cause some firms and jobs to move to NJ and CT altogether.

    New Yorkers can sometimes be so GOD DAMN DUMB with their selfishness and shortsightedness.
    Last edited by antinimby; April 23rd, 2006 at 11:49 PM.

  10. #145
    Forum Veteran macreator's Avatar
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    These guys are as dumb as the people that call for the UN to leave New York City.

    I can name a dozen restaurants and stores in my neighborhood that would go out of business if the UN suddenly picked up and left.

    What people don't realize is that the UN isn't just the guys working in and around the secretariat building, it is all of the NGO's and government consolutes that employ thousands of people that would also pick up and leave with the UN.

    The selfishness is absurd. Now we're stuck with a pretty crappy playground that could have been restored on an extended waterfront esplanade that the UN would have paid for to compensate for the loss of Robert Moses "Park" -- which is just a paved square.

    Alright, sorry folks. Enough ranting for me tonight

  11. #146

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    ^ Total agreement. I would have loved to see a new 35 story catty corner to the secretariat. GRRR. I dont agree with most of the UNs policies but thats irrelevant. Them being in NYC has many more benefits than the debits (traffic on certain days, security risk...) I dont think we should pander to them, but this tower would have been mutually beneficial. Especially if we get UN Plaza 1 and 2 across 1rst ave back to rent or sell at market price. stupid

  12. #147
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    and yet the saga continues...


    Frustrated, Leader Of U.N. Renovation Quits His Post


    By BENNY AVNI - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    May 5, 2006

    UNITED NATIONS - Throwing the U.N. renovation project into utter chaos, its leader, Louis Frederic Reuter, quit his post yesterday, saying he was "frustrated" with the organization and expressing skepticism that Turtle Bay can, at present, undertake the task of modernizing the 60-year-old landmark building it calls home.

    Mr. Reuter, who only joined the U.N.'s team 10 months ago, has been offered "lucrative" positions with building projects at Lincoln Center and at Cornell Medical Center, which he has led in the past, according to a U.N. colleague, who asked to remain anonymous. Compared to the maddening slow pace of the United Nations, where the project known as the Capital Master Plan is now estimated at $1.6 billion - but might go ever higher - those offers seemed much more attractive.

    When asked if dealing with Turtle Bay had made him wish he too could use his talents in the private sector, America's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, told The New York Sun yesterday, "No, but when I heard of Mr. Reuter's departure the thought lofted across my mind."

    Mr. Bolton said there were a lot of frustrations "dealing with the 191 member governments, and the decision making process, and the financial differences between the private sector and life in the government or international organizations are evident for everybody to see."

    Mr. Reuter's decision had not been motivated by "a single project," the U.N. developer known as "Fritz" said in a statement released yesterday after announcing his resignation, which will take effect at the end of June. "I am 62 years old and am interested in building buildings not 'selling' them, which activity has constituted the majority of my work over the last year," the statement said.

    The U.N. administration tried to pin the resignation on the latest refusal of the Bush administration to approve a $100 million plan Mr. Reuter had pitched to redraw the project. Asked about the resignation during a visit to Washington yesterday, Secretary General Annan said, "I am sorry that he has had to leave because of frustration and a lack of major stakeholder commitment."

    But Mr. Reuter said he has been "frustrated by a number of factors, all working together, including the lack of clear support by many major stakeholders and difficulties of working within U.N. practice as it applies to a large building project."

    According to U.N. sources familiar with the project, the latest bickering among member states at different committees that must approve each and every step of the project revolves around a plan to erect a temporary building on the U.N.'s north lawn to house U.N. staffers while the main building is renovated.

    The north lawn is currently a huge and well manicured garden, but it is rarely used. Another idea - building a temporary building across the street, on Robert Moses Park - was nixed by Albany, but recently revived by Mayor Bloomberg.

    Mr. Reuter told reporters last month that neither of these ideas was necessary, as the United Nations plans to renovate the building in stages, several floors at a time. A favorable long-term rental agreement with the city gives the United Nations control of two buildings on prime First Avenue real estate across the street, which also complicates the leasing of further areas.

    A major critic of the U.N. plan, developer Donald Trump, said it is overly expensive. Specifically, he cited the recent $100 million tag for designing the project. "A hundred million dollars for an architect to draw a line?" he told the Sun. At this rate, by the time it is completed the project would cost $5 billion, he estimated. "If they wanted me to come and run it," he said, "I can do it for less than $1 billion."

    The Capital Master Plan is intended to renovate the badly maintained main building and rid it of asbestos, as well as bring it up to current safety codes. It is financed by the budget, to which America contributes 22%. Washington has also offered a loan at a favorable rate.

    Some legislators have in the past expressed skepticism of the project, citing its high price and the ineptitude of its planning. Mr. Reuter's resignation "will set back the whole process, as Fritz really knew what he was doing," one Senate staffer who has closely followed the project told the Sun yesterday.

    "Given the serious life-safety issues involved in the renovation and the impact this has on the thousands of employees who work there - including at least some 300 Americans - I hope the U.N. finds someone of his caliber quickly."


    © 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  13. #148

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    I'd like to see the UN move to Europe, or at least outside the NYC and the US altogether. Not because I don't like it where it is right now, but because it would shame the current city, state and national governments so much, which they all really deserve.

  14. #149
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Who else would foot the bill?

    Do you think the UN itself would pay for it?

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    Chuck presses gov on UN tower



    Sen. Schumer


    Paul D. Colford
    May 9, 2006

    Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Gov. Pataki and legislative leaders to push through a bill the United Nations needs to build an office tower near its East Side headquarters.

    The bill, which would begin the approval process for the tower to be erected on the Robert Moses Playground, has stalled in Albany amid opposition to the UN and outrage over its oil-for-food scandal.

    "Whatever one's view of the UN is, the UN creates jobs here and makes New York the capital of the world," Schumer told the Daily News yesterday, after writing to Pataki, State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

    The UN initially planned to use the 35-story tower as temporary space for staffers while its landmark headquarters undergoes a major renovation.

    Now that the UN expects to lease offices during the renovation, the tower is seen as a place to someday consolidate hundreds of staffers who work outside headquarters. Construction, renovation and leasing temporary office space are expected to total $1.6 billion.


    All contents 2006 Daily News, L.P.

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