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Learning from the First Step: UniMail, Geneva, Switzerland

Daisy McAdam
2002 Liber Quarterly: The Journal of European Research Libraries  
UniMail, which is the University of Geneva building dedicated to the humanities, is situated in the heart of the city. Students are an integral part of the life of the district with the university situated next to a beautiful landscaped park surrounded by 600 flats. A central lane lets local inhabitants stroll through the main building on to a square, then right into the park. As soon as the main plan for the area was established as early as 1982, local authorities decided to emphasize the
more » ... emphasize the integration of the new complex into the urban environment and to maintain close relations between the university, the district and the town itself. With a total surface area of 32,000 sq meters, the building has room for 6,500 students and 1,000 professors, researchers, librarians and administrative staff. Fortunately, the University of Geneva decided to employ its own architect, Agnes Goda, who was the intermediary between the end users (students, librarians, professors, assistants) and the group of architects who had been commissioned to do the building. The resulting edifice is an exciting new landmark in Geneva's architectural landscape. Collaboration between the university architect, the mandated architects and the librarians started, to all intents and purposes, as early as 1985; there were close relations between several working groups who were in permanent contact with the operational group directed by Professor Beat Burgenmeier, a user himself and who was later to become Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. As the special architect representing the university, Agnes Goda was an efficient go-between, working in the interests of the final users. The librarians were constantly aware of four parameters:
doi:10.18352/lq.7667 fatcat:3n55wrv2f5cjbon3huvy36ixga