WIPO Begins New Era With A Light, Transparent Office Building 26/04/2011 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) More than two years after construction was begun and 13 years since its approval, a large new World Intellectual Property Organization office building quietly opened doors in March and the exodus from across the street and several other locations in Geneva began for some 500 employees of the United Nations organisation. Compared to its imposing neighbour, the central WIPO headquarters building towering over Geneva’s Place des Nations with its 13 floors and curved structure, the newcomer is a stout, square inconspicuous five-floor UN-blue glass building. Invited outsiders got a glimpse of the new building’s slick hospitality when WIPO celebrated its two millionth international patent application this month. Diplomats, journalists, some WIPO staff and representatives of Qualcomm, a US telecommunication company, gathered in the white-draped lobby to attend the ceremony on 14 April (IPW, WIPO, 15 April 2011). The foyer of the new construction is a sharp contrast from the main building where tiles had the honours. The new building is betting on light and transparency, with see-through walls, and light wood-handled glass stairs. From the foyer, looking up, the visitor can see all around him, through the transparent railings, rows of glass office doors decorated with green leaves impressions. The building has been built with longevity in mind. According to WIPO, its first stone was laid on 7 November 2008, and, “several symbolic items” were placed in a steel cylinder embedded in a concrete block, that now is part of the structure of the building. In this treasure chest “to intrigue and instruct future generations,” were placed pell-mell keepsakes such as the WIPO Convention, the WIPO flag, a WIPO medal, a selection of the architect’s blueprint, a USB key with pictures of the construction site from its start-up in April 2008, and Swiss coins from 2008. The new building was meant to open its doors in October 2010, but its completion was partly delayed until the beginning of 2011, according to WIPO. Intellectual Property Watch photographs of the early construction process may be viewed here (IPW, WIPO, 3 October 2008). Staff started taking up quarters in the building in mid-March and “are proceeding on schedule, to be completed by early June,” a WIPO official told Intellectual Property Watch. Some 500 people will inhabit the building, including staff from numerous sectors of WIPO, such as global issues, brands and design, copyright, development and administration, the official said. Formal inauguration of the building is expected to be in 2011. The date has not been determined yet. The cost of the land, purchased in 1998, amounted to CHF13,554,123 (US$15,463,707). Excluding the cost of the land, the 2008 updated estimated budget for the building was CHF153,628,903 ($175,249,349). That budget was lower than the CHF190,500,000 that was approved for the original project, according to WIPO [pdf]. WIPO did not provide the final cost of the building. Environmentally Friendly The new building, with its four underground levels, a cafeteria and five floors of offices with 560 workplaces, was designed by the German firm Behnisch Architekten, and includes a cooling system using water from Geneva’s lake. Its 1,400 m2 roof is insulated from summer heat by earth and vegetation, according to WIPO. The completion of the construction project ends an era in WIPO’s history that some say was symbolically marked by the huge excavation hole in the ground where the new building sits now. The digging was halted and sat empty for years while an investigation of WIPO finances was carried out. In September 1998, the WIPO General Assembly approved the construction of a new office building. In 2005, allegations surfaced in the media about possible financial irregularities leading to suspicion on the procurement process. An external audit report [pdf] the same year failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing, a point WIPO emphasised, though the report could not rule out the possibly (IPW, WIPO, 21 December 2005). William New contributed to this story. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Begins New Era With A Light, Transparent Office Building" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.