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Work begins to extend ITER Headquarters

Krista Dulon

The five-storey ITER Headquarters will be extended this year by 35 metres to the west, providing an extra 350 desk spaces. © Ricciotti (Click to view larger version...)
The five-storey ITER Headquarters will be extended this year by 35 metres to the west, providing an extra 350 desk spaces. © Ricciotti
In less than one year the capacity of ITER Headquarters will have increased to about 900 desks, from 550 currently, following the award of the extension construction contract signed in July with a French consortium (Vinci). Drilling to investigate the soil and rock of the land parcel near the west end of the ITER Headquarters, where the 35-metre extension will be added, began last week.

The extension will provide much-needed additional space for the ITER Project team: projections show that during the peak of construction there will be more demand for offices than can be accommodated in the current ITER Headquarters building or existing pre-fabricated structures.

Work should progress rapidly on the extension once the worksite has been secured and temporary contractor offices are in place. During the month of October, excavation and levelling operations will begin. Foundation pouring will be carried out in November and December and—beginning early in the new year—the structure of the five-storey building will rise at the rate of approximately one level every three weeks. The entire building will be standing in May 2014.

The design and plans for the 3,500 m² extension were provided by the firm of local architect Rudy Ricciotti, who was the principle in the team that conceived the original project—the 20,000-square-metre Headquarters that was handed over to the ITER Organization in October 2012. The tender offer launched in March by the ITER Organization was concluded on 26 July with the award of the contract to Travaux du Midi/Dumez Méditerranée (Vinci).

From the exterior, the extension will look like a carbon copy of the original, although important cost-saving measures were put into place to respect the strict budget. Employees with desks in the new extension will take the last elevator in the main building to arrive at their offices (there will be no elevator in the extension, although the space for an elevator shaft will be maintained on the exterior of the building in case it becomes necessary to add this feature in the future). Choices were also made on the finishing materials that resulted in important cost savings.

The priority during the tendering and negotiation phase for this contract was to respect the budget and the schedule. The EUR 7.5 million budget for the extension (which includes the design, construction and the addition of an extra parking level in the main ITER lot) will be offset by charging existing and future contractors who use office space in the ITER buildings. 

Employees will notice changes to their work environment in the weeks and months to come. The tall fence that will be erected around the extension building site will reduce the road in front of Headquarters to one lane, with alternating traffic lights for the shuttle buses that travel between office buildings. Also, the large bay windows that terminate the west-end corridors in the main Headquarters building will soon be replaced by solid walls, with soundproofing to reduce construction noise.

"Clauses were negotiated into the contract to make noise reduction a priority on this worksite," says Erwan Duval, Facility Management Officer. "We have some latitude—for example the loudest operations can be scheduled before the arrival of employees in the morning. We are also fortunate that the heaviest works will be over by the time windows are opened again next spring."

The completed extension is planned for delivery in July 2014.



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