UN Hubquarters: New Mobility in New Times

I N   C O L L A B O R A T I O N   W I T H   E R I K A   B R A N D L - M O U T O N

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2012

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“Infrastructures are the only type of building we all agree upon being truly public - common and shared.  They also reunite, with large infrastructural figures, the currently fragmented post-urban city.” - To Beyond or Not To Be, Vol. 9

Returning to the forgotten project of the UN Delegations Building - once to be incorporated in the New York City Headquarters - one finds the opportunity to speculate and reconsider the UN’s role in the society of our present, and above all, of our future.  This gives rise to several key questions: how can a utopian, idealist organization best utilize the advancement of technologies in a wholly different world than the one at the time of its conception?  How can what is supposed to be a global organization de-centralize and keep up to speed with an ever-changing and highly mobile world?  And most importantly, how can it most effectively utilize technologies at its disposal to reach out and establish a more human, more direct, more “in the flesh” connection to those in need?  And where does architecture come in in all of this?

The key to this restructuring is the notion of mobility.  Quick mobility, slow mobility, scheduled mobility, spontaneous mobility - every kind, for every need, for every one.  It must be dynamic, adaptable; anywhere, at any time.  The Delegations Building must become much more than just a place for the representatives of the member states to work, meet, and lobby; rather, it must take on the additional role - in fact, the primary role - as a transportation hub, asserting itself as an integral cog within the existing New York infrastructure, and of course, within the global infrastructure.  With the endless arrival and departure of zeppelins, planes, and boats, a theatricality is lent to the Headquarters as delegates, politicians, world leaders, and volunteers come and go.  Shared with the countless sites worldwide where these massive people-movers connect to and from, this spectacle restores the stumbling United Nations to its former glory, facilitating a truly unbounded, physical, and consistent presence.