The UN Secretariat set up temporary headquarters at the Bronx campus of Hunter College (now Lehman College) in New York City on 21 March 1946. On 16 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. Meanwhile, on 12 December 1946, a UN committee voted to accept a tract of Manhattan real estate offered as a gift by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to be the permanent home of United Nations headquarters.
An international team of architects, designers and engineers joined together to develop the UN complex on the site overlooking Manhattan’s East River. The group 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; Wallace K. Harrison, chief architect, United States; 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. The building would essentially incorporate a balance of opposites with a tall glass structure for the office space and a low round dome for the General Assembly meeting hall. This basic design was then realized in detail by chief architect Wallace K. Harrison and his team. At the time of its opening it was considered one of the most modern examples of architectural design in Manhattan.
A groundbreaking ceremony took place in New York City on 14 September 1948, and the UN headquarters opened on 10 January 1951.