Five Questions for President Michael Hengartner

Michael Hengartner, the project design for the FORUM UZH was made public and it has been very well received by the local community. What’s your opinion on the project?

Michael Hengartner: I’m thrilled! I never would have thought it was possible to get so much out of the situation on the Wässerwies area. The team of Herzog & de Meuron not only designed an elegant envelope for all our lecture halls, library rooms, workspaces, offices, cafés and gymnasiums, but also came up with a brilliant solution that benefits the entire area around the university. The way the building’s interior connects to its exterior creates spaces on all sides that flow out into the neighborhood. This is exactly the message we want to convey.

Which message is that?

The building conveys the message that UZH is anchored in society. Society supports the university, and the university’s purpose is to provide our society with a benefit. Our doors are open to the people in the area and anyone who’s interested in science and academic learning.

Which public event at UZH are you most looking forward to?

I’m really excited about the Sustainability Week at the beginning of March, which is organized by student volunteers. The program offers a wealth of ideas and the commitment of the students is extraordinary.

Even if it means UZH has to own up to its shortcomings?

It’s true that UZH still has a way to go when it comes to sustainability, for example in procurements or energy use. It’s great that students and also UZH employees are thinking about ways in which the university can be run along more environmentally friendly lines. One of UZH’s declared goals is to systematically expand its contribution to a sustainable society and enshrine this way of thinking in its research and teaching. The sustainability team led by Lorenz Hilty is coordinating all of the efforts in this area. This spring, UZH will publish its first in-depth sustainability report, which will give us specific pointers as to how we can reduce UZH’s ecological footprint.

How important was the sustainability aspect in planning the FORUM UZH?

Our aim is to achieve the Gold level of certification according to the standards of the Swiss Sustainable Building Council (SGNI). We also want the FORUM UZH to be a leading example in ecological terms. (dwe)