Built on the campus of EPFL Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, The Rolex Learning Center, designed by the Japanese architectural practice SANAA, will open February 22, 2010.
The Rolex Learning Center will function as a laboratory for learning, a library with 500,000 volumes and an international cultural hub for EPFL, open to both students and the public. Spread over one single fluid space of 215,278 square feet, it provides a seamless network of services, libraries, information gathering, social spaces, spaces to study, restaurants, cafes and beautiful outdoor spaces. It is a highly innovative building, with gentle slopes and terraces, undulating around a series of internal ‘patios’, with almost invisible supports for its complex curving roof, which required completely new methods of construction.
“The Rolex Learning Center,” Patrick Aebischer, President of EPFL, said, “exemplifies our university as a place where traditional boundaries between disciplines are broken down, where mathematicians and engineers meet with neuroscientists and microtechnicians to envision new technologies that improve lives. We invite the public into this space to convey the message that working in science is working for the advancement of society.”
EPFL is one of the world’s leading universities in technology and science, renowned for its innovations in research and learning. It is currently ranked number one in Europe alongside Cambridge in the fields of Engineering Technology and Computer Sciences. The campus, on a site overlooking Lake Geneva and the Alps, brings together over 4,000 researchers, and 7,000 students, who work in a highly collaborative environment with international experts in engineering, science and industry.
The acclaimed Japanese architectural practice SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates) was established in 1995 by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, whose pioneering buildings have created an architecture that marries aesthetic simplicity with technical complexity. SANAA’s most recent major project is the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. In 2009 they designed the Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion inLondon. Other notable projects include the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa in Japan, and the Louvre-Lens in France, opening in 2012.
The Rolex Learning Center has been financed by the Swiss government and major Swiss businesses. Rolex’s participation in the project is the fruit of a long-standing relationship with EPFL in research into materials science and microtechnology for watch design, and its deep rooted tradition of philanthropy in the arts, science and culture through the Rolex Awards for Enterprise and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Logitech made the initial contribution that launched the architectural competition. Losinger, member of Bouygues Construction Group and sponsor, was the principle contractor for the building. Credit Suisse, another financial partner for the project, will have a Future Banking Laboratory in the building. Further internationally active Swiss partners who contributed to the finance, research, and innovation of the building are Nestlé, Novartis, and SICPA.