Battelle Institute


Types of mandate

Historical project







Georges Addor, Jacques Bolliger,
Dominique Julliard

Owner of
the project

Battelle Memorial Institute


Founded in the United States, the Battelle Memorial Institute - an independent scientific research organisation - decided in 1951 to set up in Geneva in order to develop its activities across Europe. The following year it acquired a vast property on the outskirts of the city to establish its laboratories. The progressive urbanisation of the old estate spread the buildings along an orthogonal grid, the location of which preserved the patrician villa and the vegetation. 

While all the buildings follow common principles of spatial flexibility and programming inspired by the development of research - point structure, removable partitions, visible networks - they differ architecturally. Built on the model of a first laboratory building that was destroyed, Building C (1957-1958) has a facade with load-bearing sections made up of powerful pilasters and thinner concrete columns, with core elements covered in yellow mosaic and topped with large aluminium bays inserted between them. 

Building A (1960-1962), built shortly afterwards and comprising laboratories, offices, library, conference rooms and a cafeteria, looks like a long glass prism, raised above the natural terrain by means of a recessed base, under which a second low volume glides perpendicularly. As a symbol of Battelle’s golden age, together with Building D (1966 -1969) it forms an architecturally coherent ensemble in which the flatness of the exterior is predominant. Building F (1970-1972), the last to be constructed, inaugurated a new type of laboratory in which the spaces are streamlined on the basis of a distributive principle that duplicates traffic, in order to provide additional space in the centre. Larger in size, it features large concrete supporting frames on the facade that also serve to provide shade from the sun.


Yvan Delemontey, “Institut Battelle”, in Catherine Courtiau (dir.) XXe - Un siècle d’architectures à Genève : promenades, Patrimoine suisse Genève, Gollion, Infolio, 2009, pp. 202-203