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Condo of the Nations
Foster + Partners bringing global luxury to the UN's front door.
Courtesy Foster + Partners

In the latest sign that high-end real estate development is resuming in New York, Zeckendorf Development with Global Holdings is breaking ground on a new 44-story luxury condominium tower designed by Foster + Partners. The 87-unit building will be located across the street from the United Nations Secretariat building and will offer views of the East River and the Chrysler Building.


Perhaps in deference to the purity of the Secretariat building, Foster’s design for the tower, which will be called 50 United Nations Plaza, is fairly buttoned up. “The slender proportion of 50 United Nations Plaza is attenuated by the vertical stacks of the bay windows,” Norman Foster said in a statement. “The polished stainless-steel detailing of the facade is in the spirit of earlier historic towers in the city, and reflects the sharp quality of light which is special to New York.”

Though it overlooks an institution dedicated to promoting global equality and human rights, 50 United Nations Plaza is clearly intended for the so-called 1 percent. The building will include a 10,000-square-foot, two-floor penthouse unit with a rooftop infinity pool. Smaller units will range from 1,100 to 6,000 square feet, with ceiling heights ranging from 10 to 16 feet. Additional amenities include a private motor court and reserved resident parking. The project will also include 5,000 square feet of retail space along First Avenue.

The Zeckendorf family has historic ties to the neighborhood and its most famous institution. “The neighborhood is of great personal significance to my brother Arthur and me, as our maternal grandfather Trygve Lie was the first UN Secretary General, and our paternal grandfather assembled the land upon which the UN Secretariat building now stands,” said William Zeckendorf in a statement.

Site of Foster's new building near the United Nations.
Courtesy Google Maps

As an offering to the neighborhood, the developers are giving $100,000 to the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a non-profit that supports maintenance and programming of that public space. The money will be earmarked to hire a landscape architect to tie the development’s grounds to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

While hurricane-related flooding has forced the evacuation of many riverside buildings, top-tier residential development appears, thus far, unfazed. Perhaps that is the trick to New York’s continued growth and success: selective blindness and boundless bank accounts.

Alan G. Brake