Field Trip Friday: World Habitat Day 2010

New York celebrated World Habitat Day on October 4 and one of our interns, Kathleen, was able to attend the day-long Workshop at the United Nations Headquarters. The theme, ‘Better City, Better Life’ focused in on the ‘collective vision of a sustainable urban world that harnesses the potential and possibilities, mitigates inequalities and disparities, and provides a home for people of all cultures and ages, both rich and poor.’ The discussion brought forth the best and worst experiences of urban projects around the globe in an effort to encourage and improve sustainable urban practices.

The UN Headquarters from beneath the scaffolding! (and in the rain...)

The lecture was held in the Conference building, adjacent to the General Assembly and Secretariat Buildings.  Designed by a team of 11 international architects, the grounds are an ‘international zone’ under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, despite it’s location in Manhattan. The famous glass facade of the Secretariat was designed by Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer (1947-53) but is currently undergoing a much-needed renovation and partially hidden by scaffolding.  The complex has four main buildings: the General Assembly building, the Conference Building, the Secretariat and the Dag Hammarskjold Library (1961).

Cultural heritage throughout! Gift from the Republic of Korea: Early Movable Metal Type from 1447 AD

Anyone may enter the General Assembly building — you don’t need a tour to see the lobby, but it’s probably not a bad idea! The interior is as impressive as the surrounding grounds, full of artwork gifted from member nations as well as temporary installations in the General Assembly lobby.

Replica of Sputnik in the UN lobby

Speakers came from London and Rio to speak about the urban impacts of preparing to host the Olympics, while the Huairou Commission brought forth issues of women and human settlements. David Burney, Commissioner of NYC Dept. of Design and Construction and Dr. Karen Lee of the NYC Dept. of Health ended the day on a high note discussing New York City’s on-going transition to a more sustainable urban area! They highlighted the city’s successfully implemented projects and future plans for increased bike lanes, public spaces, encouragement of street cafe’s, open markets and healthier eating habits, and experimental car-free zones.

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