United Nations Porte Cochere

The design explores lightness as a visual, physical and sustainable approach, using a minimum of materials to reduce its environmental impact. FTL seeks to build responsive structures that contain spaces which inspire, where building, nature and people can meet. Drawing its inspiration from the surrounding landscape the canopy is nested within the campus landscape utilizing the contours of site as a visual buffer. Helical arches undulate and twist along the length of the roadway gently peeling away from the main building.

The renovation of the historic UN buildings is scheduled as a five year project. Due to the temporary nature of the interim buildings the environmental impact and sustainability of the Porte Cochere is a prime interest for the UN and was considered at outset of the design process. Realizing these concerns FTL introduced the concept of relocatablity, with a very simple question “Why recycle parts when you can recycle an entire structure?” The Porte Cochere was designed to be relocated to another location on the UN campus or to any other site of the UN’s choosing. From this starting point, the design developed to have minimal anchorage points and to be modular in nature, using prefabricated steel trusses allowing for quick installation which minimizes the impact of construction crews on site. The high-tech textile membrane’s function is two fold; it provides support as a working tensile element equally distributing structural loads and defuses sunlight to naturally illuminate the space below. The structure uses two fabrics, a Teflon coated glass fabric as the main fabric and a silicone coated glass fabric for greater translucency on the arches. Functionally the canopy provides visual and enviornmental shelter for the motorcades as they load and unload delegates, requiring ventilation for the idling cars inside. The open facades and linear vents that run the entire length of the trusses allow fresh air to flow freely throughout the enclosure.

The Porte Cochere offers an elegant counter point to the rectilinear architectural elements which inhabit the site. This temporary addition to the long history of the site is at once an suggestion of ideas that speak not only of the present but look forward to the future possibilities of the United Nations, it’s mission and what humanity may achieve.


Project Type


New York City, United States

Related links


  • FTL Design Studio
  • Nicolas Goldsmith