The General Assembly Hall is the largest room in the United Nations, with seating capacity for over 1,800 people. The design of the room was a collaborative effort by the team of 11 architects led by Le Corbusier & Oscar Niemeyer who designed the UN Headquarters, and to emphasize the international character of the room it contains no gift from any Member State. The only gift in the General Assembly is anonymous: two abstract murals on each side of the Hall – designed by the French artist Fernand Leger – were given by an unnamed donor through the United Nations Association of the United States.
The General Assembly Hall is the only conference room at the United Nations containing the UN emblem. The emblem consists of a map of the world, as seen from above the North Pole, flanked by olive wreaths as a symbol of peace.
Built for an important international organization, this modern complex helped revitalize New York City at the end of the second world war. Located between First Avenue and the East River at the terminus of 42nd Street, the 18-acre site was donated to the newly-formed United Nations by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. To facilitate access to the UN site, Robert Moses (then the city’s construction coordinator) diverted traffic from First Avenue. The centerpiece of the UN complex is the Secretariat, an International Style skyscraper based on plans by Le Corbusier, one of the most well-known modern architects. The actual design for the building was carried out by an international team of architects under the direction of Wallace Harrison. This 39-story building was the first major International Style building to be constructed in New York. Typical of the International Style are its simple, geometric form, the absence of historical references, and its glass curtain wall. The architects’ use of green glass, marble, and bands of metal detailing are modifications to the modern architectural vocabulary. Located on a highly visible site and surrounded by open spaces, this tower is the only freestanding skyscraper in New York.