NATO shows off its new HQ-to-be

View photos
Journalists receive a briefing during a tour of the new NATO headquarters, under construction, in Brussels on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. NATO allies, at the Washington Summit in 1999, decided to replace the existing NATO headquarters and build a new headquarters directly across the street. NATO has been based in the same building since 1967 and since then the number of NATO members has nearly doubled from 15 to 28 countries. The new headquarters, currently under construction, is scheduled to open in the spring or early summer of 2016. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO's future goals might be hazy but work is progressing steadily on the U.S.-led alliance's new home-to-be.

The environmentally-friendly headquarters complex, expected to cost 750 million euros ($1 billion), should be ready by the summer of 2016, officials told reporters on a media tour Wednesday.

"It's time for us to move on," said NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

In 1967, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization moved into its current headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels, a location that was supposed to be temporary. Now officials say the foundation is crumbling, there are too many access points from a security standpoint and meeting rooms are too cramped.

Since it's been in Brussels, NATO's membership has grown to 28 countries with a total of 4,200 military and civilian personnel in the city.

"We need to leave, because this building has outlived its usefulness," said NATO assistant deputy secretary general Matthew Klimow.

In December 2010, work began across the road on a new headquarters. When finished, it will have eight long wings connected to a central space and only three entrances: one each for staff, journalists and VIPs.

Mobile phones will work everywhere and windows will convert sunlight to energy that can be stored underground and tapped in the winter.

Some have questioned whether an organization founded to counter the Soviet threat has a role in today's world but Lungescu said the fact that members agreed to build the alliance a new home is "a vote of confidence for the future of NATO."