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JTI Headquarters

The building, which further anchors the company and its thousand employees in the city center, offers a fresh perspective on Geneva’s urban landscape. Designed by the London office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Inc. (SOM), known notably for the One World Trade Center in New York and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the building was designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-02-Adrien-Barakat-759x506 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Adrien Barakat

“The location itself was inspiring. It has a unique combination of international organisations close by, gardens, the lake and the mountain backdrop. Few city sites allow you the opportunity to create such harmony with their surroundings. The design is based on an elemental form, which we raise from the ground to enhance the open space. We want the building both to be distinctly recognisable by pedestrians at ground level, and to have an articulated roofscape that will be identifiable to Geneva.” – Kent Jackson, Design Director at SOM said

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-01-Hufton_Crow-759x732 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

SOM’s architects and engineers adopted a technique used for bridge building by creating a cantilever that allows the building to touch the ground at only two points. The fact that the building is suspended has freed up 8,162 m2 of ground space, partly filled with a landscaped courtyard which is completely open to the public and features a 250 m2 reflecting pool.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-04-Hufton_Crow-759x769 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

“The building’s design needed to exceed the demanding efficiency targets of Swiss national codes by 20 percent in order to comply with the more ambitious local “Minergie” standard. Bolstered by a host of sustainable features, the building’s performance will rank among the very best in Europe without any loss of architectural quality. This approach will reduce the real and perceived environmental impact of the building on its site and will reflect the client’s dedication to sustainability.” – SOM

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-05-Hufton_Crow-759x822 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

After more than three years of construction, JTI (Japan Tobacco International) today inaugurated its new global headquarters in Geneva. Attending the event were Pierre Maudet, Geneva State Councilor in charge of the Department of Economy and Security, and a number of other personalities.

Within a few weeks, all JTI employees, currently spread across three offices in Geneva, will have moved into their new building. “This is a very important step for our company,” says Thomas A.McCoy, President and CEO of JTI. “Our new office does more than bring together the thousand employees of our international headquarters into an extraordinary workplace; it confirms our commitment and loyalty to Geneva, where our Company’s presence goes back to nearly half a century.”

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-06-Hufton_Crow-759x628 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

JTI’s new headquarters can accommodate up to 1,200 workstations, most of which are arranged in open, collaborative layouts on nine floors, covering a surface area of nearly 28,000 m2. The onsite restaurant boasts a panoramic view over the Lake Geneva region.

The building meets the Swiss Minergie standard. It is designed to maximize the amount of natural light inside while saving energy for heating and cooling. Its structure is enveloped by floor-to-floor high performance window glazing. It is also equipped with a state-of-the-art geothermal heating system.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-07-Hufton_Crow-759x383 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

“This unique building will permanently alter Geneva’s urban landscape,” says Pierre Maudet. Since April 2012, more than 4,600 workers have contributed their talents to achieve this challenge marked by incredible technical and geometric complexity. They represent 148 companies, of which 95% are Swiss, under the leadership of Implenia.

Alongside this building, a 104-place daycare center was built and opened in August with the goal of helping JTI employees and local families find a better work-life balance. It is operated in partnership with the City of Geneva.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-09-Hufton_Crow-759x434 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill:

Surrounded by parkland and built on a former industrial site, the new JTI Headquarters is located in a Geneva district that is home to prestigious international organizations. The design, which ranks among the most sustainable buildings in Europe, consolidates four existing JTI premises within a single landmark building and demonstrates SOM’s commitment to integrated design, sustainability, and innovative workplace solutions.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-10-Hufton_Crow-759x772 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

The architecture draws references not only from its immediate context, but also from Lake Geneva and the Alps, establishing a strong identity amid its illustrious neighbors while responding sensitively to the surrounding low-rise environment. The building’s opposing corners are elevated, which creates permeability through the site, opening it up to the local neighborhood and facilitating direct pedestrian connections to a transportation hub.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-12-Adrien-Barakat-759x506 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Adrien Barakat

Embodying JTI’s brand values—‘enterprising, open, and challenging’—the design of the headquarters creates a workplace that breaks down corporate silos and contributes to an open and flexible organization. The design team identified three spatial typologies—landscape, social amenities, and dedicated workspace—to govern the way that employees and visitors experience the building.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-15-Hufton_Crow-759x409 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

A ‘Continuous Landscape’ concept integrates these three spatial types by creating a seamless experience that weaves through the building, connecting a variety of spaces. These include open plan offices, 66 meeting rooms, 31 collaborative work areas, and 23 coffee points, along with a business center, auditorium, fitness center and deli, plus two roof terraces and several social spaces.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-17-Johannes-Marburg-801x1200 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Johannes Marburg

This pathway is distinguished by a series of art installations by conceptual artist Liam Gillick, a color palette of marble and gray tones, and furniture made of regionally-sourced materials. At the structural level, a torsional tube system, which enables column free office space, provides for maximum internal flexibility and future adaptability.

JTI-Headquarters-By-SOM-Skidmore-Owings-Merrill-20-Hufton_Crow-759x440 JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill

© Hufton + Crow

Project Data:

Project name: JTI Headquarters
Location: Rue Kazem-Radjavi 8, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Coordinates: 46.222270, 6.145933
Type: Office Building
Project Area: 37,790 sqm
Site Area: 9,825 sqm
Number of Stories: 9
Building Height: 51 m
Status: Completed
Completion Date/Year: 2015
Visit JTI Headquarters’s website: here


  • 2016 – Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design Awards – The International Architecture Awards
  • 2016 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories: Commercial > Office Mid Rise (5-15 Floors) – Popular Choice Winner
  • 2016 – American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Awards – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) – Award of Merit for Architectural Engineering Integration
  • 2016 – American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Awards – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) – Award of Merit for Structural Systems Design
  • 2016 – American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Awards – Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) – Best Overall Project: Projects Greater than $100 Million

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: JTI (Japan Tobacco International)
Architects: SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill – The Broadgate Tower, 20 Primrose Street, London, EC2A 2EW, United Kingdom
Contractor: Implenia Suisse
Façade Contractor: Josef Gartner
Services Engineering: MAB-ingenierie / Weinmann-Energies
Civil Engineers: B + S Ingenieurs Conseil
Project manager: Knight Frank
Text Description: © Courtesy of SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, JTI (Japan Tobacco International)
Images: © SOM – Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Hufton + Crow, Adrien BarakatJohannes Marburg

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JTI Headquarters / SOM - Skidmore Owings & Merrill
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