Herzog & de Meuron

The FORUM UZH with its terraces and central plaza reinforces and enhances the urban presence of the University of Zurich. With the new education and research center open to the public, the city extends into the University.

The university quarter impressively “crowns” the old town of Zurich and testifies to the importance attached to knowledge and culture in the 19th century, when this urban idea was initially introduced. Historicizing, classicist public buildings are lined up along Rämistrasse, where the old city walls once stood.

Stand-alone buildings are set back from the street and respond to the topography with below-ground plinths and terraces. Spacious central halls, like the Lichthof in the main university building, foster the identity of the respective institutions from within. The new building for the University of Zurich is a contemporary embodiment of these urban and interior typologies: below-ground plinth, stand-alone building, and Forum.

The topographical plinth is primarily for teaching. Terraces built into the slope are stepped around a central hall – the Forum. The plateaus are places where students and the public can congregate; they access lecture halls, classrooms, a café, as well as shops, gyms and other sports facilities. There is a flowing transition between inside and outside. The below-ground plinth interacts with the surrounding urban spaces – entrances on all sides and facilities open to the public seamlessly link the education and research center with the neighborhood.

The unifying Forum extends across five stories from the plinth up into the building and continues outdoors as a garden, hosting a bit of forest in the midst of the university.

The stand-alone building hovers above the plinth and is set back from the street far enough to allow for a central plaza in the university quarter: the Gloriaterrasse. Planted with large trees, the sunny plaza is an extension of Gloriapark, while the stand-alone building is incorporated into the chain of large-scale, institutional buildings along Rämistrasse. The faculties of law, economics and modern languages are accommodated in close proximity on the top four floors of the building, where they are arranged around two inner courtyards. An even grid of columns, an efficient floorplan and ample daylight allow for flexible use of this simple volume with its diverse learning environments and working worlds. The two lower floors of the trapezoid building accommodate the library which adjoins the Forum and is accessed via sweeping, open staircases. Along the main façade, the view from the reading room, which is two stories high in part, is directed across the Gloriaterrasse to the main building opposite.

Cantilevered floors and brise-soleils of varying sizes structure the façade and lend it spatial depth. Depending on one’s vantage point, the building may appear weighty, as if it were of solid stone, or transparent and light. The play of horizontal and vertical lines and the curved motif of the brise-soleils enter into a dialogue with the historicizing Palazzo architecture of the neighboring institutions.

Herzog & de Meuron, 2018


Jacques Herzog: “Space is at a premium around the university, more and more area is required for diverse institutions to guarantee a future for their research and teaching missions. How, then, can spaces be created for people and nature?

Only by placing many of the uses in an elevated building have we been able to bring daylight into the terraced plinth and make room for the public space that we were aiming for. The inviting atmosphere and the numerous trees will make the large plaza in front of the new building and also the Forum itself a new focal point of university and urban life.”

Pierre de Meuron: “The public competition for the University of Zürich was an exciting and inspiring challenge. As in any competition, it is crucial not only to meet the prescribed specifications but also to anticipate and interpret the often unspoken needs and expectations of clients and users.

Moreover, as made manifest in recent controversial public debate, major new construction in Zurich’s university and hospital quarter is a sensitive issue. The simple, compact volume of our project harmonizes with the neighboring buildings and gives them room to breathe.”

Christine Binswanger: “The FORUM UZH is not only a perfectly natural complement to the classicist monumentality of the buildings along Rämistrasse; it also makes a self-confident, contemporary and transparent statement.

We made literal use of the name of the project and created a forum in the truest sense of the word. A spacious atrium in the heart of the building invites people to congregate and can host lectures, events, concerts or exhibitions – a new public venue for the entire city. At the same time, the Forum provides orientation in the large building and links the three institutes. No one can walk about in this building without passing through the Forum.”





Project Team
Alexa Nürnberger (Project Manager, Associate)
Julian Oggier (Project Manager, Associate)
Roland Schreiber (Project Manager, Associate)
Farhad Ahmad
Selma Alihodzic
Rui Alves Rocha
Jeronimo Andura Cano
Jurij von Aster
Frédéric Beaupère (Design Technologies)
Maxime Beljansky
Marcelo Bernardi (Associate)
Matteo Berti
Karina Borodaï
Vincent Bowman
Cinzia Bussola
Lea Calabrese
Paolo Catrambone
Massimo Corradi (Design Technologies)
Simon Demeuse (Partner)
Nazli Deveci
Michael Drobnik (Design Technologies)
Silja Ebert (Associate)
Reto Egli
Joshua Ehrlich
Niklas Erlewein
Andrea Erpenbeck (Associate)
Birgit Föllmer (Associate)
Florian Frank (Design Technologies)
Jan Aimé Fräulin
Martin Fröhlich (Associate)
Adrian Galeazzi (Design Technologies)
Nuno Galvão
Vanessa Gerotto
Carlheinz von Geyso
Stefan Goeddertz (Associate)
Arie Gruijters
Lion Haag
Oskar Haushofer
Hendrik Hermans
Julian Höll (Design Technologies)
Dmytro Isaiev
Volker Jacob
Vasileios Kalisperakis (Visualizations)
Burak Kalkan
Hyunuk Kim
Mark Knegt
Maria Krasteva
Elena López Müller
Raúl Mera
Erminia Mossi
Gourav Neogi (Design Technologies)
Raneen Nosh
Dominik Nüssen (Design Technologies)
Tânia Oliveira de Jesus
Bryan Parvex
Felipe Pecegueiro Curado
Artemis Pefani
Pedro Peña Jurado
Lukas Prestele
Marco Puorto
Piercarlo Quecchia
Luca Redaelli
Benjamin Reiner
Ellen Marie Reinhard
Nele Riecks
Andrea Riva
Emre Sari
Marie Schamboeck
Michael Schmidt (Associate)
Benjamin Schneider
Martin Schulte (Design Technologies)
Günter Schwob (Workshop)
Elisa Siffredi
Aleksandar Slavikovic
Petra Steinegger
Alexandre Tornay
Daniel Tüschen
Laetitia Vouillon
Thomas de Vries (Associate)
Leona Wagener
David Wasel
Claudia Winkelmann
Fen Xiao
Kai Zang
Dorian Zank
Felipe de la Cierva Rotaeche


Landscape Architect: MDP Michel Desvigne Paysagiste, Paris, France
Construction Management: b+p baurealisation ag, Zürich, Switzerland
Electrical Engineering: Boess SYTEK AG, Binningen, Switzerland
HVAC Engineering : Stokar + Partner AG, Basel, Switzerland
Plumbing Engineering: ing.-büro riesen Bern AG, Bern, Switzerland
Structural Engineering: Schnetzer Puskas International AG, Basel, Switzerland
Cost Consulting: b+p baurealisation ag, Zürich, Switzerland
Specialist / Consulting
Building Physics Consulting: BAKUS Bauphysik & Akustik GmbH, Zürich, Switzerland
Sustainability Consulting: Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH, Stuttgart, Germany
Vertical Circulation Consulting: Rapp Industrieplaner AG,Münchenstein, Switzerland
Fire Protection Consulting: BIQS Brandschutzingenieure AG, Zürich, Switzerland
Building Data
Site Area: 140'145 sqft, 13'020 sqm
Gross floor area (GFA): 743'365 sqft, 69'061 sqm
GFA above ground: 382'731 sqft, 35'557 sqm
GFA below ground: 360'633 sqft, 33'504 sqm
Net floor area: 420'502 sqft, 39'066 sqm
Number of levels: 10
Footprint: 132'772 sqft, 12'335 sqm
Gross volume (GV): 11'102'164 cbft, 314'378 cbm