NYC: United Nations Headquarters
The United Nations Headquarters has been home to the UN since its completion in 1950. Though it is located in New York City's Turtle Bay, the seventeen acre complex, bordered by First Avenue to the west, East 42nd Street to the south, East 48th Street to the north and the East River to the east, is considered international territory.
The United Nations (UN) is an international organization, consisting of 192 member states, including almost every recognized indepdent state, whose mission is to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues. Founded in 1945 to replace the League of Nations, they initially set up temporary headquarters at the Bronx campus of Hunter College in March, 1946. In August, 1946, the UN moved to the Lake Success, a village just south-east of Little Neck and Douglaston on Long Island. The UN Security Council operated from a cavernous factory building on Marcus Avenue that had housed the Sperry Gyroscope Company during World War II. In nearby Flushing Meadows, the General Assembly convened in the New York City Building from 1946 to 1950. In December, 1946, a UN committee voted to accept a tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., which he purchased for $8.5 from preeminent New York developer, William Zeckendorf.
The lead architect for the complex was Wallace K. Harrison, the personal architectural adviser for Rockefeller family. Harrison was joined by an international team of architects, designers and engineers including included Max Abramovitz, director of planning, Unites States; Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil; Nikolai D. Bassov, USSR; Vladimir Bodiansky, engineering consultant to the director, France; Ernest Cormier, Canada; Charles E. Le Corbusier, France; Sven Markelius, Sweden; G.A. Soilleux, Australia; Liang Ssu-cheng, China; and consultants Anthony Antoniades, Greece; Matthew Nowicki, Poland; and Ernest Weismann, Yugoslavia. Le Corbusier is credited with creating the “paper napkin” sketch laying out the conceptual character of the design.
While the Secretariat Building is most predominantly featured in depictions of the headquarters, the complex is comprised of a number of major buildings, including the domed General Assembly Hall, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, and the Conference and Visitors Center, which is situated between the General Assembly and Secretariat buildings, and can be seen only from FDR Drive or the East River. Just inside the perimeter fence of the complex stands a line of flagpoles where the flags of all 192 UN member states, plus the U.N. flag, are flown in English alphabetical order.
The 505-foot, 39-floor Secertariat Building was the first major International Style building to be constructed in New York. Typical of International style are its simple, geometric form, the absence of historical references and its glass curtain wall. Based on plans by Le Corbusier, the use of green glass, marble and bands of metal detailing are modifications ot the modern architectural vocabulary.
The United Nations Secretariat, one of the principal organs of the United Nations, is headed by the United Nations Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and other U.N. bodies.
In 2007, the United Nations Headquarters was ranked #111 on the AIA America's Favorite Architecture list.