The Palais des Nations is the hub for international collaboration, hosting more than 12,000 meetings a year on a range of issues that impact on the lives of every person, every day. At a time when nearly every issue has a global dimension, there is pressing demand for a neutral space like the Palais des Nations. To meet this need, UN Geneva must be at the forefront of conferencing technology. In 2017, upgrades were carried out in two conference rooms – 12 and 16 – and in the Council Chamber.
Offering a safe, modern and functional working environment for delegates and UN staff is a top priority for UN Geneva and the Strategic Heritage Plan project. Although well maintained, the Palais des Nations has not kept up with changing building codes, including accessibility and safety regulations. Many mechanical, electrical, audiovisual, and information and communication systems are at the end of their useful life. To care for the well-being of its occupants and reduce operational costs, a comprehensive renovation will begin in late 2018 or early 2019.
In anticipation of the renovation of the Palais des Nations, a new permanent building is being constructed which will be used as temporary swing space during the renovation. Construction of the new permanent building is proceeding at a brisk pace. A third crane has been installed on site and the first walls are being built. Work on the foundation is well under way on 3 of the 4 levels of the building which is due to be completed in 2020. The project team has also been working on a design change to incorporate more timber beams into the building, rather than using pre-cast concrete. While not affecting the overall budget, the change will improve the interior’s appearance and will accelerate the work on site.
Work on the P10 car park also continues. The structure has been fully reinforced to comply with current fire and safety codes. Work on the new ramp structure is ongoing. The construction of the link between Building E and the New Permanent Building, the Plaza section, will start once the P10 works are substantially finished and the new ramp is in place. The scheduling has been designed to work around the major Summer conferences, so the disturbance to delegates and staff will be minimized. Finally, the SHP team is working on the GLN (Geneva-Lake-Nations) pipes, which are used to cool the Palais with 100% renewable energy. This is a closed-circuit system which takes water from the lake, puts it through a heat exchanger to cool the Palais and then returns it to the lake.
What comes next?
The major schedule milestones for the project are:
- To complete, in 2019, the design and selection of a contractor for the renovation of existing buildings;
- To complete, in 2020, the new building and begin to use it as swing space;
- To start, in 2019, the renovation of the existing buildings;
- To dismantle the “E” building tower once the swing space is no longer needed; and, finally
- To complete the overall project in 2023.