The Palais des Nations is home to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), which serves as the representative office of the Secretary-General in Geneva. It is a focal point for multilateral diplomacy and services more than 10,000 meetings and conferences every year, making it one of the busiest conference centers in the world. With more than 4,100 staff from the United Nations Secretariat, it is the biggest duty station outside of United Nations headquarters in New York. Once the Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP) – the renovation of the Palais des Nations – is completed, an additional 700 UN staff members will relocate to the Palais des Nations.
The SHP was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The project, which includes the construction of a new permanent office building, will extensively renovate the main Palais des Nations complex of buildings, much of which dates back to the 1930s. The historic buildings will be fully renovated, with priority given to protecting the heritage of the Palais des Nations, while modernizing the core building and conference support systems, improving working conditions and safety, as well as providing accessibility for persons with disabilities. The total cost of the project, scheduled to be completed in 2024, is 836.5 million CHF.
Strategic Heritage Plan Newsletter
The Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP) project includes the construction of a new sustainable office building, the comprehensive renovation and modernization of the historical buildings and the dismantling of the office tower above conference Building E.
The renovation, which extends over an area of 170,000 square meters, will include major modifications and upgrades to the UN’s historic buildings. A new administrative building will create an additional area of 24,000 square meters, including open-plan workspaces to accommodate approximately 1,500 staff members, terraces, and access to outdoor space on every floor for staff to use.
Work on the construction of the new building is well under way and the building is due to open to staff in 2021.
In November 2019, UNOG and a consortium of Italian and Swiss firms, Renovation Palais des Nations SA, signed a contract for the largest and most complex part of the SHP renovation project at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The works are expected to begin in autumn 2020 and are due to be completed in 2024.
In order to facilitate the renovation of the historic buildings, early works started in July 2020 and comprises of the following three construction sites:
- Contractor offices and facilities
- Temporary storage buildings, security locker rooms and storage and Facilities Management Section workshops
- Delivery vehicle security screening and access arrangements at Chemin de Fer
A key strategic objective of the SHP is to maintain business and operational continuity, so that the core business of providing the key infrastructure that supports the United Nations’ important mission can continue to be delivered. For this reason, the entire SHP has been designed around the principle of maintaining continuous availability of conferencing facilities and services. To ensure UNOG’s ability to hold meetings and events throughout the SHP project, a temporary infrastructure for conferences, Tempus, was constructed within the compound of the Palais des Nations in P2 parking. Tempus will first be divided into three rooms of 200 seats and will then be reconfigured into a large 600-seat conference room in 2022 until the end of the project, when it will be dismantled.
In March 2020, in response to the first wave of COVID-19, the Geneva Conseil d’Etat ordered all construction projects in the Geneva canton to cease work. Consequently, construction works on the new building and the temporary conference facility, Tempus, at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) were halted on 20 March 2020. Both construction sites re-opened respectively on 29 April and 11 May. Tempus was officially opened by Ms Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General, UNOG, and Ambassador Jürg Lauber, Switzerland’s Permanent Representative to UNOG, on 29 September 2020.
Unlike during the first wave of COVID-19, the Geneva Conseil d’Etat has decided not to halt works on construction sites in the Geneva canton during the second wave of COVID-19. Therefore, the construction site of the new building remains open and all staff on site follow the same stringent health and safety measures that have been put in place in April by the contractors, including specific training for workers on COVID-19 restrictions, physical distancing and mandatory personal protective equipment.
The early works continue in preparation for the imminent start of the renovation of the historic Palais des Nations.
While the planning, design and procurement activities related to the SHP continue at pace, the COVID-19 crisis will have an impact on both the start of the renovation works and staff moves. Please see below for the latest planned building closures for renovation works. We will keep you informed of any changes to the schedule.
The major schedule milestones for the project are:
- To complete, in 2020, the new building;
- To start, in 2020, the renovation of the existing buildings;
- To start, in 2021, to use the new building as swing space and renovate the historic Palais des Nations
- To dismantle the “E” building tower once the swing space is no longer needed; and, finally
- To complete the overall project in 2024.
This film presents an overview of the SHP project which aims to renovate the facilities at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and to build a new permanent building on the premises. Building code compliance and greater accessibility for persons with disabilities are among the key objectives of the project.