10 July 2013
As an organisation requiring top performance from its staff, the EPO is committed to provide a working environment that meets the highest international standards. A central aspect of this concerns the buildings in which staff carry out their daily tasks. The EPO’s building policy has to cater for five sites of very different size, in Munich, The Hague, Berlin, Vienna and Brussels, with activities that have been continually expanding for many years.
In this connection, I was particularly pleased by the decision taken at the end of June by the EPO’s Administrative Council to support a major building investment in The Hague. The background to this is historical. The start of the EPO’s activities in the 1970s was facilitated by the integration of the International Patent Institute, with its 714 employees and its substantial premises in Rijswijk, on the outskirts of The Hague. At that time, a prominent element of this real estate asset was a tower block, built in 1973, which was one of the tallest buildings in the area. Over the years, the building deteriorated, as a result of weather damage, to a point where safety issues could have arisen. Various attempts were made to address the problem, but without success. Since taking office as the EPO’s President in July 2010, I have given top priority to the building question at The Hague, and I am grateful to all those who have helped to ensure a positive outcome this year.
The Council has endorsed the conclusion of the international jury by selecting the bid of the Dutch TBI Group, in cooperation with two leading architectural firms, Ateliers Jean Nouvel from France and Dam & Partners Architecten from the Netherlands. The new building will be able to house 1 750 employees in vastly improved conditions. It will use state-of-the art technologies to ensure a high-quality, innovative and sustainable construction that respects the environment. The current planning foresees delivery of the new structure at the end of 2016 and completion of the project, including demolition of the tower, by 2018.
I am sure that this architectural landmark will enhance the image and reputation of the EPO, underlining our commitment to innovation and reinforcing our historic links with the Netherlands.