The United Nations Meditation Room

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The Meditation Room is 30 feet long, 18 wide at the entrance (which faces north north-east), and 9 wide at the other end. It is therefore wedge-shaped. Its only entrance is through two tinted glass-paned doors outside of which stands a U.N. guard. Inside the room is another guard. Once through the doors, the visitor finds himself in a darkened corridor which leads to the left. The sharp transition from a world of light to one of extreme darkness forces a feeling of abrupt withdrawal from the outside world upon the senses of the visitor who walks along the corridor, reaches the inner arched entrance, turns right, and looks into the room.

The room is very dimly lit. The only source of light, at first glance, is that which is reflected squarely from the gleaming upper surface of the brooding, somber altar in the center of the room. A special lens recessed in the ceiling focuses a beam of light on the altar from a point above and just beyond its far edge. Thin lines of bluish light lap the edges of the shadow cast by the altar.

The acoustical properties of the room are unique. The edges of padding material behind the paneling on the walls can be detected at the ceiling level. This absorbs sound as does the Swedish-woven blue rug which covers the floor of the corridor and the back of the room. The room is as quiet as an underground tomb. Its floor is paved with blue-gray slate slabs laid in a haphazard pattern. At the edge of the rug are two very low railings extending out from the east and west walls of the room. The center space between the railings is some six feet in width. To the right of the inner entrance are ten low wicker benches arranged in two rows of three and one back row of four against the corridor wall. Attempts by visitors to pass the railings are discouraged by the guard.

The mural is a fresco which was painted originally on wet plaster one section at a time by the artist with the aid of an expert in this work brought from Europe. It is set into a steel-framed narrow panel projected from the wall, behind which is an enclosed area some six inches deep which has its own light source. A small, square projector set close against the front base of the altar throws a diffused beam of light from a recessed aperture upon the surface of the mural. There are also ten hidden lights, five on each side of the room, behind the upper edges of a thin suspended ceiling which extends out over the room from the top of the mural. The 18 inch space between the two ceilings contains the light control apparatuses. The lower ceiling is wedge-shaped and separated from three walls of the inner room by a foot-wide space. Thus the room appears to be much longer than it really is because of the many converging lines leading into the narrow end, the corners of which are rounded off on either side of the mural.

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