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WIPO Inaugurates New Conference Hall

Geneva, September 23, 2014

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, high-level members of the Swiss and Geneva governments, and the international intellectual property (IP) community inaugurated WIPO’s new Conference Hall Monday evening in a celebration that transformed the speakers’ dais into a soundstage featuring globally renowned musicians.

Videos: Inauguration ceremony Video | Morphing of the construction Video | Photos: Album on Flickr |
Brochure PDF, New Conference Hall

WIPO’s new 1,600 square meter Conference Hall (photos on Flickr) features some 900 seats, state-of-the-art interpretation and projection facilities and pine and oak construction material sourced mainly from Switzerland.

(Photos: WIPO)

“The new Conference Hall has been warmly greeted as a beautiful new addition to International Geneva,” Mr. Gurry said. “It floats between the original WIPO tower and our new building. As a cantilever construction, it expresses balance, the key to success in multilateralism.”

Delegates from WIPO’s 187 member states were gathered in Geneva for the annual WIPO Assemblies, taking place September 22-30, 2014.

The WIPO Assemblies were being held for the first time in the new conference center, a notable new feature on Geneva’s Place des Nations that completes WIPO’s major construction plans. When the Conference Hall is not being used for WIPO meetings, it will be available for use by other parties.

Speaking on behalf of the Geneva Government, Mr. François Longchamp, President of the Council of State, Republic and State of Geneva, said by virtue of its geographical location, and the “audacity of its architectural choices,” WIPO stands out. “The Conference Hall that we are inaugurating today completes the assets of International Geneva.” He said the shape of the new Conference Hall “is not trivial” as the structure appears to be floating above the ground. “The image is telling,” he noted, adding that architecture is not only about function, but also “illustrates a spirit and translates an ambition.” Mr. Longchamp said this Conference Hall is not only at the service of WIPO, but all. “To those who wanted this Conference Hall, to those who conceived it and to those who built it, the Geneva Government sends its profound gratitude.”

“We are excited to celebrate together the inauguration of the New Conference Hall for the World Intellectual Property Organization,” said the architect of the new Conference Hall, Mr. Stefan Behnisch, of Germany-based Behnisch Architekten. “This event marks the completion of WIPO’s building ensemble. The client’s decision to build such a contemporary wooden structure showcases a sustainable, responsible approach to design and realize such highly functional buildings.”

French electronic music composer Jean-Michel Jarre, President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), helped open the new center with a call to help creators.

"Creators around the world depend on rights and policies that protect their interests and guarantee a fair remuneration for them,” he said. “WIPO is where such rights and policies are discussed and agreed internationally. As President of CISAC, I call upon all WIPO member states to recognize the importance of creativity, not only to our culture, but also as a driver of global economic development. Now is the time to develop new and fruitful partnerships between creators, WIPO and its member states, leading to initiatives that would ensure a sustainable future for creators."

Peru’s Susana Baca Video
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry
Senegal’s Ismael Lô Video

After opening speeches, delegates and other guests enjoyed musical performances by Peru’s Susana Baca and Senegal’s Ismael Lô, whose bands turned the space intended for diplomatic proceedings into a concert hall reverberating with rhythms from around the world.

“We are very pleased that both Susana Baca and Ismael Lô could join us on this occasion,” said Mr. Gurry. “Both are award-winning artists who are actively involved in promoting creators’ rights in their own countries and abroad.” He added: “They both reflect the cultural diversity of the world; their fusion of Latin American and African influences made the evening a worthy tribute to this new hall where so many multilateral discussions will take place.”

The new Conference Hall gives priority to sustainability, using local wood, natural light, hybrid ventilation combining natural and mechanical means, and a cooling system drawing water from Lake Léman.

Around and below the Conference Hall, new facilities include a press room, a telecommunication room and all the facilities to service meetings in the new hall. In addition, the project included the renovation of several areas of the main headquarters building, in particular the creation of five additional meeting rooms for group and bilateral meetings, as well as an expanded lobby which is now more accommodating for exhibitions and showcases of artists, as well as other IP-related activities sponsored by WIPO member states. Construction began in August 2011.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the United Nations agency that serves the world’s innovators and creators, ensuring that their ideas travel safely to the market and improve lives everywhere.

We do so by providing services that enable creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to protect and promote their intellectual property (IP) across borders and acting as a forum for addressing cutting-edge IP issues. Our IP data and information guide decisionmakers the world over. And our impact-driven projects and technical assistance ensure IP benefits everyone, everywhere.

For more information, please contact the News and Media Division at WIPO:
  • Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
  • E-mail