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January 26, 2021

Handover of the new Biozentrum building to the University of Basel

The two cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft today handed over the new Biozentrum building to the University of Basel. The technical facilities at the new research building have successfully passed all tests, and approval for use has been granted by the construction and industry inspection office. The university will test the research facilities over the next few months and gradually move into the building. Teaching in the building is scheduled to begin in fall 2021.

Photo of the steering committee of the new Biozentrum building with Professor Andrea Schenker-Wicki, President of the University of Basel, and Professor Alex Schier, Director of the Biozentrum. (photo taken 8 December 2020)

Press release of the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft 

The governments of the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft, represented by Conradin Cramer, Hans-Peter Wessels, Monica Gschwind and Isaac Reber, handed over the keys of the new Biozentrum to President of the University Council Beat Oberlin, President of the University of Basel Andrea Schenker-Wicki, and Director of the Biozentrum Alex Schier. The occasion brought the largest building construction project of the three partners one step closer to completion. 

The technical facilities have successfully passed all integral tests. Provisional approval for use and approval for various special uses in the field of molecular biology were granted in November 2020 by the construction and industry inspection office (BGI). This means that the new Biozentrum can be used without restriction. As a result, the two cantons were able to hand over the new building to the University of Basel as owner. 

Over the next few months, the University of Basel and the Biozentrum will test, adjust and optimize the numerous research facilities. Moving in will take place during the same period. Teaching in the building is scheduled to begin in fall 2021.

“The long awaited move into this cutting-edge research building represents a milestone for the Biozentrum. This is where we will write the next chapter of our nearly 50-year success story. Thanks to the state-of-the-art infrastructure, we remain competitive on the global academic stage and can attract the world’s best scientists to Basel,” says Professor Alex Schier, Director of the Biozentrum.

Excavation work began in August 2013 for construction of the new building. In spring 2014, the foundation stone was laid in the presence of then Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann. However, following an unsuccessful appeal against the general contractor that won the tender, the start of construction was delayed until fall 2014. By the end of 2016, the building shell and facade work were largely complete, but defects were identified in the technical systems and fire safety measures. Further extraordinary events and cases of damage led to a further extension of the construction period and an overrun of the overall project costs. Currently, the two financing cantons anticipate a cost overrun of between CHF 87 million and CHF 97 million against the forecast total costs of CHF 337.8 million (adjusted for inflation). This falls within the range of the scenario communicated in December 2019.

With the handover of the new building, the two cantons will be able to bring the project to a close in the next few months. The internal administrative processing of the project, in particular an analysis of the extended construction period and the overrun in project costs, is fundamental to this process. The Department of Finance of the canton of Basel-Stadt and the Department of Finance and Churches of the canton of Basel-Landschaft have therefore commissioned an external expert review of the developments concerning the new Biozentrum building.

About the new Biozentrum building

About 400 researchers from over 45 different countries will work in the new Biozentrum. Researchers at the Biozentrum generate annual third-party funding of approx. CHF 20 million. The lecture halls have a capacity of about 900 students, with 70 places for practical laboratory work and 70 computer training places.

The new building will also house the University of Basel’s IT Services with its approximately 100 employees and the computer center for the whole university. More than 80 employees from the university’s central services, such as workshops, lab ware and media preparation, communications, buildings services, administrative staff, etc., will ensure that operations in the new Biozentrum run smoothly.

Strengthening the position of life sciences in terms of research activities, international reputation and as a field of study is important not only for the Biozentrum but for the whole university. This is where emerging talent will be trained for the regional life sciences industry, one of the most significant employers in the region.

The new Biozentrum building represents the largest building construction project in the history of the university and its supporting cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt. The high-rise laboratory, standing at 72 meters, has 16 upper floors and three underground levels. The volume of the building above ground is 60%, with 40% underground. The building has usable floor space of 23,400 m2.

The new Biozentrum is a building that integrates the complex requirements of modern research in the field of life sciences. The 40 individually designed laboratories and scientific installations in the building present significant and highly diverse demands in terms of indoor climate, ventilation, absence of vibration, biosecurity and much more.

Establishing the required state-of-the-art infrastructure was and continues to be a building technology challenge. Millions of individual built-in components and 700 systems must be able to work together in a stable manner. 

For queries:

  • Marco Greiner, Deputy State Clerk / government spokesperson for the canton of Basel-Stadt, 079 211 23 03
  • Nic Kaufmann, 2nd Regional Clerk / government spokesperson for the canton of Basel-Landschaft, 079 757 72 80
  • Matthias Geering, Head of Communications & Marketing, University of Basel, 079 269 70 71

Picture gallery

Hochbauamt des Kantons Basel-Stadt
Hochbauamt des Kantons Basel-Landschaft