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New UN Delegates' Lounge Has Koolhaas Chairs, Elsewhere No Seating

By Matthew Russell Lee, Review

UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- The reopening of UN Headquarters after its $2 billion renovation has been halting. Today we run a review, one in a series, of the refurbished Delegates Lounge, and of the Conference Building.

  In the past, the Delegates Lounge had a big wooden bar, and a second floor loft serving coffee. Now, the loft is gone, and so is the wooden bar, replaced by one of black stone. Inner City Press photo here.

  Inner City Press on Friday asked Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein where the wooden bar has gone. He said he'd look into it, and let it be known that the designer of the new Delegates Lounge was none other than noted Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

I'm giving you a scoop,” said Adlerstein, with whom Inner City Press has at times locked horns. “You owe me one.”

In that spirit, we don't focus here on the missing wooden bar. The computers in the Lounge are now covered with plastic half-spheres, like in a women's beauty parlor. Photo here.

  The chairs are on wheels; there are spindly rocking chairs reminiscent for those who've been there to those in the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo here.

  Adlerstein explained the layout as based on Dutch berms around fields. An Inner City Press reader, seeing the Tweeted photo, chimed in that the “chartreuse tables actually look like my kids' elementary schools. They still have 1960s Soviet liberation art, I guess.”

  Actually the art remains the same: the carpet or wall hanging of the Great Wall of China is back, returned from its sojourn in the UN's North Lawn building. That is largely vacant now, though Inner City Press is aware of some trying to get offices there, even now.

This weekend, both the UN Spokesperson's Office and the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit are moving to the second floor of the renovated building. The press corps, meanwhile, for reasons still not sufficiently explained, will remain in cubicle above the Dag Hammarskjold Library, the whistleblower-free zone.

  It was supposedly to explain the delay in moving that MALU came into and then raided Inner City Press' cubicle office on March 18, rifling through papers and taking photographs which were later, right after the Spokesperson was asked by BuzzFeed about that raid, leaked to the BuzzFeed reporter through an anonymous “Concerned UN Reporter” email address.

MALU and the UN Department of Public Information above it have refused to state the identities of those it allowed into Inner City Press' office without notice or consent, why the president of the UN Correspondents Association Pamela Falk of CBS News was taking pictures, and how the photos were leaked to BuzzFeed.

  Nor has the explanation of the delayed move, the ostensible reason for the March 18 entry without notice or consent, ever been provided. Watch this site.

Footnote: two floors below the Delegates Lounge, the Conference Rooms are already in use. The rooms now have card-key entrance, to log in every attendee (and those playing hooky).

  Notably, while there used to be long brown leather couches by the rooms, there's now no seating in the halls at all. This is diplomacy?

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