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High flyer Switzerland’s tallest building officially opened

The architect's impression of how the two Roche towers will eventually look side by side


Pharmaceutical giant Roche inaugurated Switzerland’s tallest building in Basel on Friday. The 178-metre-tall structure, known inauspiciously as Building 1, will house 2,000 workers.

The building, designed by the renowned Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, is 52 metres higher than the Prime Tower in Zurich. Roche plans to construct an even bigger 205-metre research and development centre - Building 2 – next door to its newly opened office block by 2021.

Building 1 has 41 floors and a total floor space of 74,200 metres, It cost CHF550 million ($568 million) to build, with the total bill expected to reach CHF3 billion once the twin tower of the R&D centre is complete.

Amid fears that some Swiss companies may seek to escape high-cost Switzerland and the strong franc, Roche chief executive Severin Schwan said: “We also regard Building 1 as a clear commitment to Switzerland and to Basel.”

Tight planning regulation restrictions in many Swiss urban areas mean that there are few skyscrapers in Switzerland. The 126-metre Prime Tower in Zurich held the record as Switzerland’s tallest building for just under four years.

The world's tallest artificial structure is currently the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai.

Of the 100 tallest buildings on the Skyscraper Center database - compiled by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat - the shortest is the 296.7-metre Comcast Center in Philadelphia, United States.

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