Located on the Place de Fontenoy, in
Nicknamed the ‘three-pointed star’, the entire edifice stands on seventy-two columns of concrete piling. It is world famous, not only because it is the home of a well-known organization but also because of its outstanding architectural qualities.
Three more buildings complete the headquarters site. The second building, known affectionately as the "accordion", holds the egg-shaped hall with a pleated copper ceiling where the plenary sessions of the General Conference are held. The third building is in the form of a cube. Lastly, a fourth construction consists of two office floors hollowed out below street level, around six small sunken courtyards. The buildings, which contain many remarkable works of art, are open to the public.
In the early years of its existence,
UNESCO was installed in the "Majestic", a large disused hotel near
the Champs-Elysées, in central
UNESCO’s special mission – to build peace on the
foundation “of the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” – called for a
grand architectural statement. The two years of surveys and research before
actual construction began included broad cooperation between the greatest
architects of the time – Walter Gropius (
The planners conceived a big work of art and from the
beginning the architecture was blended with paintings, sculpture, tapestry and
other artistic forms. Control of the project was given to three architects.
Bernard Zehrfuss (
As soon as the architectural plans for the site at the Place de Fontenoy had been approved, UNESCO commissioned a number of great artists to create works to adorn the future premises. In some cases, the works are also intended to evoke the peace that the institution has sought to establish and preserve throughout the world. Over the years, other works were acquired. Some were donated to the Organization by various Member States. Picasso, Bazaine, Miro, Tapiès, Le Corbusier and many other artists, both famous and unknown, all have their place in this universal museum that echoes the diversity of artistic creation throughout the world.
In 1965, a new building constructed around underground patios was added, and in 1970 and 1977, two supplementary buildings. The buildings were designed and approved by several leading architects. Works by contemporary artists are an integral part of the headquarters.
Architect and designer, Marcel Breuer
has taught and lectured in universities and art institutes in the
Pier Luigi Nervi, engineer, architect, teacher and writer, has designed and constructed
many buildings in
Bernard Zehrfuss, winner
of the Rome Grand Prix is architect and adviser to many official and private
organizations. Among his recent works are the National
Centre for Mechanized Industries, in
Charles Le Corbusier is widely known for his bold architectural conceptions which have materialized in such projects as the city of Chandigarh in India and the ultra-modern building, the cite radieuse, in Marseille, France.
Walter Gropius is one of the pioneers of modern conceptions of architecture and the
founder of the famous Bauhaus school in
Ernesto Rogers has carried out many important town-planning and architectural projects and has taught in several universities.
Sven Markelius is town
Lucio Costa drew up the plans
Eero Saarinen is architectural consultant to General Motors.
Eugène Callison, American architect and engineer. The technical construction work at the UNESCO headquarters site was directed by him.
UNESCO’s new home is the result of their joint efforts.
The ceremony for the
laying of the first brick was held on
During the ceremony on
The best constructed buildings crumble under the action of the rain and burning sun,
But neither wind nor rain shall have any hold on the monument my verse has built.
Photos from the history of UNESCO: the Kléber, Paris. at Avenue
Photos from the history of UNESCO: construction of the new headquarters, 1958.