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Strengthening the UN

Capital Master Plan (CMP)

The United Nations Headquarters complex in New York was constructed from 1949-1952. The landmark building is seen all over the world as a symbol of the United Nations itself, and it is a rare example of the international style architecture of the 1950s.

Construction at UN HeadquartersThe Capital Master Plan (CMP) is the five-year, US$ 1.87 billion renovation project to bring the UN compound into the twenty-first century, and will result in a safer, more modern, and more energy-efficient Headquarters complex for delegates, staff and visitors.

Following the project’s authorization by the General Assembly, the CMP formally commenced in May 2008 when construction began of a temporary building on the Headquarters’ North Lawn. The new building, referred to as the North Lawn Building, was inaugurated in January 2010.

In order to meet the office space requirements of the Organization during the renovation, the leasing and fit-out of off-site swing space was required.

From early 2009 to April 2010, approximately 6,000 staff were relocated to leased offices in midtown Manhattan and Long Island City, Queens. Space within the Headquarters’ basements was also reconfigured to provide temporary space for offices and other functions.

Construction at UN Headquarters, aerial view.Over time, the North Lawn Building (shown on the left in the aerial photograph) will change functions to accommodate various space needs while different compound buildings are being refurbished. Initially, during the renovation of the Conference Building, it provides meeting room space. It also houses the Executive Office of the Secretary-General while the Secretariat Building is being renovated.

Subsequently, the North Lawn Building will be reconfigured to house the functions of the General Assembly Building, which will be renovated in 2012 - 2013.

The CMP project is scheduled to be completed in 2013.


The General Assembly has requested that the United Nations explore innovative ways to promote procurement opportunities for vendors from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The Office of the CMP issues notices to the missions of Member States informing them of significant upcoming procurement opportunities, and both the UN and its construction manager maintain websites which provide information for all potential bidders. Procurement of materials and trades for the project is undertaken through the award of subcontracts by the UN’s construction manager, Skanska USA, a subsidiary of the Swedish construction firm Skanska AB.


The CMP will incorporate many new technologies to improve environmental performance in key areas such as energy consumption, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of water consumption, enhancement of indoor environmental quality, use of sustainable materials, and careful and appropriate waste management.

Substantial improvements will be made to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems. New high-efficiency lamps and ballasts, and occupancy sensors will automatically control all lighting.

A daylight harvesting system will respond to natural light levels. All of these steps will help to reduce energy consumption by over 50%, as compared to existing conditions. Low-flow toilets and lavatories as well as a rainwater harvesting system will help to reduce fresh water consumption by over 40%.

The CMP will result in a 45% reduction in the UN’s carbon footprint, as CO2 emissions will be reduced by over 23,000 tons per year.


Member States that wish to support the CMP efforts beyond their assessed contributions to the CMP budget, can make donations or additional contributions. A policy has been developed that includes a list of spaces available for adoption. Discussions with Member States that have expressed interest in becoming a donor are underway.

More information on the CMP is available on the CMP website. For additional questions or information, please contact the CMP's Public Information Officer, Mr. Werner Schmidt, at 917-367-5420 or at schmidtw@un.org.