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Roche reveals towering plans for Basel site

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Roche reveals towering plans for Basel site
Roche's development will include the highest building in the country. Photo: Roche
11:17 CEST+02:00
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is to invest three billion francs ($3.14 billion) in its Basel headquarters over the course of the next ten years in a massive redevelopment project which includes the construction of the tallest building in Switzerland.

Among its grand plans, announced in a press conference on Wednesday, Roche will construct a new centre of research and development to house 1,900 employees, and a huge state-of-the-art office building for 1,700 staff.

The latter, a 550 million-franc tower block due for completion in 2021, will be 205 metres high and contain 50 storeys, making it the tallest building in Switzerland.

Roche has brought in Basel-based star architects Herzog & de Meuron to conceive the new development.

Revealing the plans, Roche CEO Severin Schwan said the new buildings will guarantee the company’s long-term presence in Basel and attract top international talent.

"Roche is committed long-term to Switzerland and to Basel in its dual role as corporate headquarters and one of our most important sites worldwide," he said in a statement.

"The entire value chain is represented in Basel. Employees from all parts of the company are making a vital contribution to Roche’s innovative strength, and we want to provide them with an attractive work environment.

“The new buildings will continue Roche’s tradition of elegant, distinctive and functional architecture.”

Many of the office buildings and laboratories on the current site at Grenzacherstrasse no longer meet present-day requirements and require renovation, said the statement.

The completion of the development project will allow the majority of the 9,000-strong Basel workforce – many of whom currently work elsewhere in the city in rented offices – to come together on the main site.

The new 1.7 billion-franc research centre, due to open by 2022, will include four office buildings housing 950 office staff and 950 laboratory workers.

A further new building dedicated to animal research will “meet the strictest current standards for experimental animal care”, said the statement.

In addition, Roche will invest 700 million francs in the renovation of existing buildings, including a logistics centre and an 85 million-franc upgrade of the historic building 21, designed by Otto R Salvisberg and built in 1937.

The design will consider neighbours in the surrounding area, with the tallest buildings built in the middle of the complex and an emphasis on the use of public transport and bicycles to cut down on traffic.

Roche must still submit its grand plans to the Basel authorities, which it will do in 2015, but Schwan is confident of gaining approval following recent preliminary discussions, reported news agency ATS.

“A no from the authorities would be a real problem,” he said.

One of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, in 2013 Roche employed 85,000 staff worldwide and posted sales of 46.8 billion francs.

At 128 metres, the highest building in Switzerland is currently the Prime Tower in Zurich.

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