Campus - 29.09.2023 - 07:30
The new Campus Platztor is not only a significant undertaking for the University of St.Gallen (HSG) but also for the city and canton of St.Gallen and the entire region. There was great excitement when the winning project of the architectural competition was presented in April 2021. It had impressed during the competition despite some shortcomings, such as facade design, floor heights, and layouts. These deficiencies were supposed to be addressed by the responsible architectural firm. Unfortunately, despite intensive efforts, this development was not successful, leading the Department of Construction and Environment to have the project's progress evaluated by the jury in June 2023. The jury found that the project had significantly lost spatial and design qualities compared to the competition design and doubted that the shortcomings could be rectified after two years of work.
Therefore, the jury unanimously recommends not pursuing the "Haus im Park" project any further. In consultation with HSG, the Department of Construction and Environment and the Department of Education will follow the jury's recommendation and will request that the government revoke the award. A new process will be initiated for the construction project. Rescinding an award for a project of this magnitude and relevance is not done lightly. Nevertheless, it is necessary. A building of this significance must meet all of the specified criteria especially since it will provide important services and shape the cityscape for many decades. For HSG, the focus is on future users and their needs. Therefore, the main design must encompass a flexible design that meets a high standard of sustainability criteria.
If the government agrees, the canton could launch a new process and likely could begin in mid-2024. Construction would then be scheduled to start in 2028, with completion in 2031. This would result in a two-year delay. The costs for the previous planning and the intended re-tendering amount to 2.5 million Swiss Francs. Nevertheless, the canton can maintain the budget. In 2019, the canton's population approved a construction budget of 160 million Swiss Francs.
The University is growing, and a delay of approximately two years in realizing the Campus Platztor exacerbates the long-standing and future space shortage in teaching and research areas. SQUARE, which the University has realized with private donations in the meantime, provides some relief. As an experimental space for teaching and learning innovation, it is a supplement but not a replacement for Campus Platztor. Therefore, it is expected that HSG will need to retain provisional spaces and may need to lease additional rental properties. However, HSG's goal remains to achieve a campus solution owned by the canton in due course, which is more cost-effective and aligns with legal requirements and the popular vote.
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