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It is only slight exaggeration to say that visitors to the United Nations HQ in New York can sometimes see asbestos dripping from the walls. The building is old and decrepit. City officials would have condemned the building long ago if not for the fact that it falls under international jurisdiction. The sad fact is UN HQ, an international symbol and New York landmark, has not undergone a major renovation in fifty years. That is, until now. From the UN News Center:

Shovels in hand and donning blue hard hats, members of the United Nations community, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, today broke ground for the construction of temporary conference venue at the world body’s New York Headquarters, marking the beginning of a five-year, $1.9 billion overhaul of the landmark complex.

“Today, we turn the soil which the United Nations stands on to mark the rebirth, or renovation, of our Headquarters,” Mr. Ban told representatives of Member States, the Host Country, staff and the private sector gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony on the North Lawn.

The construction of the temporary conference building is the first phase of the project, known as the Capital Master Plan (CMP), which aims to make the five-decade old Secretariat and adjacent buildings — plagued by leaks, safety violations and outdated systems — safer, more efficient, greener and more modern.

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