Although it is taken for granted by many, the United Nations Secretariat stands unique along the East River in New York City. Its International Style design has certainly helped pave the way for other modern skyscrapers such as, the Lever House and the Seagram Building which are also in New York.
The United Nations was established in 1945 to foster a safer and healthier world for all following the ravages of World War II. In 1946, the United Nations sought a permanent international home for its new headquarters. John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated the 18 acres of land which would become international territory. An international team of architects were selected for the design committee. "The most notable of the architects were Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier and Wallace K. Harrison."1 Furthermore, "(t)he international style was chosen by the board members as it symbolized a new start after the Second World War. A plan by Le Corbusier, known as project 23A, was taken as the basis for the design ... the final plan 23W, drawn up by Oscar Niemeyer was adopted by all members of the board. It consists of a complex with 4 buildings: the Secretariat building, the General Assembly building, the Conference building and the Dag Hammarskjold Library."1 After the groundbreaking in 1947, the United Nations Secretariat was completed in 1952.
The UN complex is currently undergoing a four-year renovation that will strive to keep the mid-century modern aesthetic intact while hoping to vastly improve the carbon footprint and infrastructure. The following WNYC video highlights the building and renovation goals:
Sources and other material:
A View on Cities - United Nations HQ
The UN's Extreme Makeover by Jennifer Hsu
Fixing The World: How Do You Renovate The United Nations? Diplomatically.