Our future: The AO Campus in Davos

 The AO Foundation has been based in Davos for 65 years. An ambitious new construction and renovation project—the “AO Campus”—will strengthen the organization’s commitment to Davos and Graubünden for many years to come. 

“The AO Campus is our future,” said Irene Eigenmann-Timmings, COO/CFO of the AO Foundation. “It is the largest investment project that the AO has ever undertaken and a clear commitment to Davos as our headquarters.” With the building application for a new building—the “Science Circle”—handed in a few days ago, the project is finally ready to take off. In addition to the new building, it also includes a comprehensive renovation and modernization of the existing AO Center, as well as urgent renovation work on the preclinical facilities’ buildings. The Science Circle is scheduled to be inaugurated in June 2027, but the AO Campus will only be complete once the AO Center reopens in 2028 and the renovations of the stables and operating rooms are concluded. 

Simi Valär, member of the executive municipal government (Kleiner Landrat) and head of the municipal building department, congratulated the AO Foundation on behalf of the Kleiner Landrat for their courage in supporting Davos to such an extent and thanked them for their commitment to Davos and its region. “Investments in research and in the future are significant for how we’re perceived from the outside,” said Valär. He was pleased that Yanik Stiffler (Architektur 41), a local architect, was commissioned to design the new building. 

The ring-shaped Science Circle will be the beating heart of the AO’s research and innovation in the future. “It was important to us to find a shape for the new building that fully supports the workflows and doesn’t compete with or disrupt the existing AO Center,” explained Stiffler, “and the round shape proved to be optimal.” In addition to state-of-the-art laboratories, the new building will house offices for researchers and a spacious auditorium. Sustainability and environmental awareness are priorities: The Science Circle is built with local wood, and solar panels along its facade and a geothermal probe heat pump ensure sustainable energy and heat generation. Furthermore, the AO is committed to working with local and regional suppliers and companies wherever possible. 

“When we moved into the newly built AO Center in 1992, we were around 100 employees,” said Geoff Richards, director of the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI). “Today, over 300 people work in Davos alone, and the working conditions are no longer up to date.” After the laboratories have moved to the Science Circle, the existing AO Center will be used primarily as office and meeting space and will need to be completely renovated and modernized in the coming years. The renovation will not be visible from the outside, but the transformation on the inside will include flexible workplaces, a spacious cafeteria, and areas for exchange and collaboration, as well as dedicated rooms to decompress and relax. 

“We want to redefine what working at the AO should look like,” said Claas Albers, director of the AO Innovation Translation Center (ITC) and future CEO of the AO Foundation. “The aim of AO Campus is not to further increase our number of employees, but rather to create modern and contemporary working conditions by bundling our Davos workforce at one location and to remain an important and attractive employer in Davos and Graubünden in the future.”