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United Nations close-up exterior of building
United Nations close-up exterior of building

United Nations Capital Master Plan

A sustainable revitilization of the United Nations building brings the midcentury modern icon into the 21st century.

Size 1,500,000 sf

Location Northeast U.S.

Services Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape, Lighting, Master Planning

Sectors Workplace

Specialty Studios Spark

Modern conference room with floor-to-ceiling windows providing ample natural light, complementing the rich wooden wall panels and sleek, rectangular table. Brown leather swivel chairs encircle the table, while the United Nations emblem commands attention on the focal wall.

Serving as the Project Architect, HLW spearheaded the extensive renovation of the United Nations headquarters in New York. This major overhaul included the Secretariat tower, General Assembly Building, Conference Building, and additional campus facilities. The Secretariat’s restoration was particularly significant, involving a comprehensive reorganization and rebuilding of the core, effectively a redesign in place. Working alongside a select team of professionals, HLW also designed the North Lawn Conference and screening facilities, including more than a million square feet of off-site workspace to accommodate staff throughout the five-year construction process.

The design strategy balanced contemporary workplace needs with the preservation of the buildings’ modernist origins. This included upgrading communications, fire safety, security systems, and ensuring compliance with local codes. The project’s architectural language and intent served to unify various components of the renovation, maintaining the integrity of the UN’s iconic characteristics while modernizing facilities to meet current and future needs.

Seamless integration of 21st century safety and workplace standards within an iconic midcentury modern structure.

Major structural, interior, and landscape enhancements across various buildings and facilities.

Creation of contemporary workspaces that respect the buildings' original architectural language and enhance operational efficiency.

The United Nations Headquarters building stands tall against a clear blue sky, featuring a distinctive grid of windows on its façade, with a row of international flags fluttering in the foreground.
Modern commercial lobby with monochromatic checkered flooring, sleek marble columns, ample ceiling-mounted lighting fixtures, and full-height glass windows emitting natural light. People are walking and conversing, adding human scale to the space.
Modern lecture hall featuring tiered seating with individual workstations, built-in audiovisual equipment, and country nameplates in front of each row reflecting a model United Nations assembly hall.