The United Nations building is a perfectly preserved homage to the go-getting 1950s – right down to its Mad Men-style interiors.
The complex was completed in 1952, and – even during a recent refurbishment – every last vintage chair was reupholstered and put back, and every vibrant carpet replaced with the exact same color.
Boo York City was given special access to some of the lesser-known areas of this monument to vintage design, and we discovered that there are even ultra-cool bars and lounges where you can imagine Don Draper relaxing with a scotch.
The entrance at 46th Street and 1st Ave is a soaring wall of glass split into strips by pink and gold pillars. A model of Sputnik – a gift from the Soviet Union – appears to float in the lobby space.
This is just one of many gifts, from sculptures to tapestries, that adorn the building at every few paces. As none of these are curated with a theme or broad direction, it gives this epicenter of power a strangely homey atmosphere. One United Nations source described it as ‘looking like grandma’s house’.
Though the art collection may be random, the interiors are so slick that they look like Roger Sterling commissioned them to impress Joan Holloway.
One particular lounge area is arranged with angular white tufted leather couches, set on a grass-green carpet, against a window that allows sunlight to pour in, casting Mondrian-style shadows on the floor.
The United Nations Delegates Lounge is also blessed with two whole walls of floor-to-ceiling windows and Scandinavian modernist furniture in green, blue, purple and yellow.
This lounge, and the canteen, both command uninterrupted views of the East River and the famous Pepsi-Cola sign, with boats streaming past, seemingly within touching distance.
The Trusteeship Council Chamber is a modernist dream, with lime-green chairs contrasting with the yellow, red and black stripes in the carpet, the teak paneling and the primary-colored box lighting, suspended from red horizontal ‘ladders’.
The Security Council Chamber is even more spectacular, and could pass for the War Room in Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. Powder-blue, tomato red, and sage green seats face towards a center circle desk, backed by a vast mural by Per Krohg which is reminiscent of a church stained-glass window.
It seems appropriate that this elegant, symmetrical space is where resolutions are made about world peace.
*For tours of the United Nations, please click here.