- Collaborators:Jacques Richter, Ignacio Dahl Rocha, Kenneth Ross, Fabrizio Giacometti, Baris Kansu, Christian Gonin, Mauro Branco, Diego Comamala, Bruno Goroni, Marco Turin
Text description provided by the architects. Situated on a tree-lined avenue along the shore of Lake Geneva in Lausanne, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center is the fourth building conceived by RDR for the campus of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), a former residential estate. The building responds to the Plan Partiel d’Affectation (PPA) for the development of the historic Campagne des Cèdres, whose regulations defined the volume, position, and height of the structure.
The result is a rather deep plan, 44 by 49 meters, in which circulation and common spaces are organized around a glazed atrium spanning the full height of the building, which together with an open terrace on the attic level ensures the presence of natural light throughout the interior.
The main volume, whose flexible spaces are designed to serve a variety of teaching programs, dominates the composition of the building by appearing to hover over the seemingly empty space of the ground floor, where the main entrance leads into a spacious foyer flanked by a 350-seat auditorium and a dining room facing the lake. Meeting rooms and small lecture halls of varying sizes are ranged around the perimeter of the building on the first floor.
Suspended above the auditorium, the first floor is supported by a network of triangulated steel beams that emerge at the level of the roof, where they also act as a pergola to provide partial shading for an open terrace. The minimum floor height allowed for optimum use of the building's interior space, while transferring the static height onto the roofing compensated for the limited size of the structure. A parking garage and service spaces are concealed in the lower level, a bush-hammered reinforced concrete plinth half-submerged following the slope of the terrain.
The innovative static system satisfied the mandate for flexible teaching spaces that could be adapted over time to accommodate present as well as unforeseeable future purposes. Given this structural decision, the facades freely express the diversity of the interior spaces. The large glazed bay reveals the openness of the public spaces and dining room on the ground floor, although the auditorium is equipped with moveable panels that allow it to be closed off if necessary. Sheet metal facade cladding coated with a custom white lacquer affords a glimpse of the seminar rooms on the first floor. In contrast with its brilliant luminosity, the opacity of the black enameled glass of the ground level below evokes the far reaches of void space, heightening the dynamic character of successive facade layers with their banded apertures and lightening the expression of the building volume.
The IMD Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center was awarded the 2009 Prix Suisse de la construction métallique Prix Acier. The jury determined that “this building illustrates in an attractive way the economical and ecological use of steel in multi-floor structures. Even though the material is barely visible, the generosity and elegance of the premises and their luminosity testify to the potential of metallic construction."