Now taking place on a site overlooking the East River in New York City, precisely 65 years after the first foundation stone was laid, is a large-scale renovation of the United Nations complex. Whereas the original structures were designed and built by a team headed by Wallace K. Harrison, who called his project ‘a workshop for peace’. The commissioned and other Dutch creative icons to redesign the North Delegates Lounge without veering to far from the original concept. The UN’s request entailed a platform for Dutch design: a showcase project that would focus a global spotlight on the country’s designers and artists.
The North Delegates Lounge is a meeting place for thousands of policymakers and diplomats who represent the organization’s 192 member states. As an informal, unofficial space in which conversations are unrecorded, the lounge plays a key role in the workings of the United Nations. Although all major decisions are taken in other locations within the complex, it is here that many ‘deals’ between nations are closed, that friendships are born or renewed and that animosities are assuaged.
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs: ‘This project is Dutch design’s calling card to the world, a way for theto express, in an untraditional manner, the importance it attaches to the United Nations and to multilateral cooperation.
The status given by the United Nations Capital Master Plan to the Delegates Lounge is ‘Historic Significance Level 1’, which indicates the wish of the United Nations to preserve historically valuable buildings and places. What this means for the Delegates Lounge project is that the space is to be renovated or preserved, as well as possible, in its original state. The design team was given the opportunity, however, to adapt the finishes of walls, floor and ceiling to harmonize with the architecture of the building and the materialization of adjacent spaces. Completing the picture are four design features that typify the character of the lounge and have to be preserved: the transparency of north- and east-facing exterior walls, the freestanding columns, the original wall clock and the height and flat surface of the ceiling. To safeguard security and privacy, uninterrupted views of the interior by anyone outside the building are not permitted.
Hella Jongerius was joined by other well-known Dutch creatives included Rem Koolhaus– principal of , graphic designer , artists and theorist . After a close collaboration and realization process, the new lounge was opened by Queen Máxima of the on 25 September.