Foundation Stone Laid for WIPO’s New Building

Geneva, November 7, 2008
PR/2008/574

Geneva and Swiss officials and representatives of member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) joined WIPO Director General Francis Gurry on November 7, 2008 at a ceremony marking the laying of the foundation stone of the new WIPO building project.

Following tradition, a number of symbolic objects and documents were placed in a cylinder and later embedded in a concrete block, which was laid at the base of the new building’s foundation. Noting the importance of the event in the life of the Organization, Mr. Gurry explained that the contents of the cylinder contained “a number of symbolic objects indicating the time and age in which we live”.

These included the WIPO Convention, a WIPO flag, a USB key containing a selection of photos of the site since excavation began in April 2008, a copy of the bill of sale of the land (purchased in 1998), the brochure relating to the architectural competition in 1999, a selection of the architect’s blueprints, a copy of the contract with the general contractor, a copy of today’s official gazette (Feuille d'Avis Officielle), Swiss coins from 2008, the program for today’s ceremony, a commemorative WIPO medal and the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. Gurry said that the construction of the new building, which will open its doors in October 2010, will enable the Organization to re-group all WIPO staff into one site. The Organization currently rents office space in other locations around the city.

Mr. Gurry said that while the site represented physical property, a great amount of creativity and inventiveness on the part of all those involved in the project lay behind it. He noted in particular the architects, engineers, planners and builders who have found solutions to the engineering and design challenges presented by the project.

The building’s architect, Mr. Stefan Behnisch, called the project  “a great new addition to WIPO’s home” that will complement and enhance the existing headquarters buildings.

Speaking on behalf of the Organization’s 184 member states, the Chairman of the WIPO General Assembly, Mr. Martin I. Uhomoibhi, who is also Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, congratulated all those involved in advancing this project. He cited, in particular, the Director General for his leadership and Swiss and Geneva authorities for their support.

Speaking on behalf of Mr. Mark Muller, Geneva State Counsellor responsible for Construction and Information Technology, Mr. Robert Monin called the project a very strong symbol of Geneva’s international vocation and the presence of so many international organizations in Geneva, which generated some 14,000 jobs, was a sign of the vitality of the city and its surrounding area.   He said Geneva plays a unique role in terms of hosting international organizations and facilitating dialogue between nations.

Ambassador Amadeo Perez of Switzerland said the laying of the foundation stone was a reflection of the Organization’s determination to realize its plans and that the new building would strengthen the Organization by enabling all staff – its most valuable resource - to occupy a single site. 

Also present at the ceremony were representatives of the Swiss general contractor, Implenia Entreprise Générale SA, (this is Implenia’s largest construction site currently in Switzerland) and the banks providing financing for a large part of the project, Banque Cantonale de Genève and Banque Cantonale Vaudoise.  Burckhardt+Partner SA, a Swiss firm specialized in the management of large construction projects, which serves as pilot of the project, was also represented.

The construction of the new administrative building along the Route de Ferney, comprising five floors of offices, four underground levels, 560 work places and a cafeteria, began in early April 2008. For more information about the construction project, please see https://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/govbody/en/wo_ga_36/wo_ga_36_6.pdf

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