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Architectural visions of the United Nations



The site of new UN Headquarters as it looked in August 1946, about one month after the demolition work had began. General view, looking south, of the Manhattan site of the United Nations permanent headquarters, at an early stage of demolition work. East River is at left, First Avenue at right.

The decision to locate the United Nations in New York City was made in London by the General Assembly at its first session on 14 February 1946, after offers and suggestions for permanent sites had been received from many parts of the world. An offer by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was accepted by a large majority of the General Assembly on 14 December 1946. New York City completed the site parcel by additional gifts of property. The site chosen by the United Nations was a run-down area of slaughterhouses, light industry and a railroad barge landing. A $65 million plan for the construction of the site was approved by the General Assembly on 20 November 1947. To finance construction, the US Government made an interest-free loan of $65 million to the UN. This amount had been repaid by 1982.



New scale model of the proposed permanent Headquartersof the United Nations. Designed by the Board of Design Consultants of the United Nations Headquarters Planning Office, the model of the future seat of the United Nations to be erected on the Manhattan East River site was approved by the General Assembly.



Charles Le Corbusier, France, Architect on the 10-member Board of Design Consultants assisting Wallace K. Harrison, Director of Planning in the development of architectural plans for the building of United Nations permanent Headquarters on the East River site, at microphone, recording broadcast.


Date: 01/04/1947

Wallace K. Harrison, fourth from left in background, Chief Planner for United Nations Headquarters, pictured before the preliminary models with members of the 10-man Board of Design Consultants and other consultants appointed to assist him in drawing up plans for the construction of UN Permanent Headquarters on the Manhattan East River site. Board members standing in foreground are, left to right: Ssu-Cheng Liang, China; Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil; Nikolai Bassov, USSR; and Ernest Cormier, Canada. In second row, from left to right: Sven Markelius, Sweden; Charles Le Corbusier, France; Board Member Bodiansky, France, engineer, consultant to Director; Mr. Harrison; G.A. Foilleux, Ausralian Board Member; Max Abramowitz, United States; Director of Planning and consultants Ernest Weismann, Yugoslavia; Antoniades, Greece, and Matthew Nowicki, Poland. [RKO Building]. April 1947.


Cornerstone Laying Ceremony Marks United Nations' Fourth Birthday

The cornerstone of the United Nations Permanent Headquarters was laid on United Nations Day, 24 October, at a special open-air General Assembly meeting held on the site of the Headquarters building in Manhattan, New York. The ceremony, marking the Fourth Anniversary of the United Nations, was attended by President Harry S. Truman who was the principal speaker. Secretary-General Trygve Lie deposited in the stone copies of the United Nations Charter and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Cornerstone Laying Ceremony Marks United Nations' Fourth Birthday

General view of public attending the ceremony.


Cornerstone Laying Ceremony Marks United Nations' Fourth Birthday

General view of public attending the ceremony.


Demolition Begins on United Nations Permanent Headquarters

During brief ceremony at which demolition of present structures on the United Nations Permanent site was begun, Byron Price, United States, Assistant Secretary-General for Administrative and Financial Services, extreme left, Hugo Rogers, center, Manhattan Borough President, and William O'Dwyer, Mayor of the City of New York, remove the first dozen bricks from a boarded up five-story tenement building.


UN Headquarters Planning Office. Architects model #23-A.


Interim Headquarters of the United Nations

Exterior view or the Central Hall, London, site of the first part of the First Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Assembly held its first meeting on January 10, 1946.


Pinch and HAP

News Item: New United nations Headquarters building to be equipped with more than 2,000 individual air conditioning units to protect health of workers recruited form widely different climatic and temperature zones.

Punch: I hear they can't even get together on the temperature they want in there...

Pinch: What's the difference - so long as they figure out some way to keep on working in the same building?


Model for the Economic and Social Chamber

Mr. Sven Markelius (extreme left), well know Swedish architect, presents his suggestion for the Economic and Social Chamber at the new U.N. Headquarters to (l. to r.): Mr. Wallace Harrison, of U. S.A., Mr. Jacques Carlu, of France, and Mr. Howard Robertson, of U.K., members of the U.N. Art Advisory Board. On this picture, the model is seen from the Gallery end, showing the large 'Window behind the Council table.