Dutch Treat: The U.N. Hires Rem Koolhaas to Remodel Its Watering Hole

Rem Koolhaas-design for the UN North Delegates Lounge
(Courtesy OMA)

Already housed in an architecture wonk’s dream, the United Nations is upping its design ante by tapping Rem Koolhaas and other Dutch stars to reinvigorate its interiors.

Koolhaas, who once proposed his own unrealized plans for the Secretariat building decades ago, will be joining 3-D designer Hella Jongerius, graphic designer Irma Boom, and artist Gabriel Lester on a team selected by the Dutch government to redesign the North Delegates' Lounge, an informal meeting space where major policymakers and representatives go for a drink at the end of the day. The U.N., which is currently more than halfway through a five-year renovation mission, had asked its member states to adopt spaces within the its headquarters, and the Dutch have been charged with one that lies between the General Assembly and the Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer-designed Secretariat skyscraper.  


In reverence to the existing iconic décor — chairs by Hans Wegner, Charles and Ray Eames, and Knoll, and lamps by Harrison & Abramovitz lamps, for example — the team plans to incorporate flourishes of Dutch design heritage to the space while keeping the original furnishings intact. They’ll be adding chairs by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (slightly augmented to accommodate what we could call the “growing population”), and a curtain of knots and 30,000 partly-glazed porcelain beads manufactured by Dutch craftsmen to the windows on the east facade, a testament their maritime history.

The team will also be adding a new information wall, reception desk, and cast black resin coffee bar. In order to give delegates a better view of the East River, they plan to remove a mezzanine that was added to the space in 1978. The art hanging on the walls will be given a slight boost; the designers plan on re-hanging them with aluminum cladding to give them more depth.  The redesign is scheduled for completion next year.

In case you aren’t a major ambassador, prime minister, or other such notable, ARTINFO has gotten a hold of a few adorable miniature models to help you envision the space. Click the slideshow to see them.