“UN,” or, “this architecture is a distillation of what the UN itself is”
September 21st is the International Day of Peace. It was declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, and has been a symbol of ongoing efforts to create true, lasting, world peace ever since.
Paris and I had the opportunity to help out with an event discussing the United Nations’ goal of “Peace and Sustainable Development” this past Friday. It was quite an experience – we both wound up tweeting a lot, which you can see here, and overall we enjoyed the experience.
While a lot of it was panel discussions, which aren’t exactly my photographic forte, the event was held in the Vienna International Center. It’s not super easy to get in there – the security is pretty tight, considering that it’s one of the UN’s three world headquarters. I figured I’d take advantage of being allowed in and snap a few pictures of the grounds.
Once you get out of the security building, you’re greeted with the sight of a fountain, surrounded by flags, and the buildings of the complex rising around it.
The event was held in Building C, the main entrance to most of the complex, in a room that made me feel really official – if you looked in the back, you could see the translator booths above the main level, and every seat had a little earphone thing that could be switched to whichever of the seven languages you’d like.1 Very fancy.
And, of course, the whole place was the sort of architecture I love – skybridges abound, and half the buildings were just suspended above the ground on massive pillars.
A key part of the event was the ringing of the Peace Bell by three WWII survivors – a Slovenian concentration camp survivor, a woman who, as a girl, lived through the Blitz of London, and the third, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
We all had the opportunity to ring the Peace Bell after they did, actually, which I couldn’t say no to. I mean, look at it:
We’ll end with what I’m referring to in my head as the “Action Shot” – Paris got this picture, and I find it oddly entertaining.
- Translation was only provided from Japanese and Slovenian to English, but the system was set up to allow for translation to all six of the UN languages, plus German. ↩