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 Spring 2020.
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 construction 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.
The structural work on the P10 carpark and for the creation of the new Plaza is almost complete and the carpark is operational again without major disruption for staff and delegates. Some finishing work remains such as cladding the new entrance ramp’s parapet, and this is scheduled to take place in Summer 2019.
The foundations for the highest level of Building H have been completed and the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work has started, with the first fit of mechanical and electrical facilities. Active slabs -elements that will allow for the cooling of the new permanent building with water from the lake- are currently being installed. The glass façade is undergoing performance testing prior to the final validation necessary to start the assembly process and the double-height (more than 7-meter high) precast columns have been installed in the entrance lobby.
Finally, members of the team visited the Netherlands to review the trees which will be part of the landscaping of Building H, both in the two courtyards and also surrounding the building.
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 2020, 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 2024.