10 Years Centre for Global Dialogue

22 Jul 2010

Festive culmination of the anniversary year.

The 10 year anniversary of the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue was marked by a gala celebration which took place at the Centre on 5 July 2010.

The evening began with a short film featuring the Centre - "Everything starts with a question". Since its opening, the Centre has been a place to seek answers to some of the questions posed in the film. Annabelle Hett, Head of the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue, welcomed the invited guests, representatives from the world of politics, business and science on behalf of the Board of Directors and Executives of Swiss Re. The Centre's architects, Marcel Meili und Markus Peter, were also present. These two men had the vision to combine the elements of architecture, art and landscape in unified whole, transforming the old and the new into a harmonious synthesis of both. Walter Kielholz, Chairman of Swiss Re's Board of Directors, spoke next, further extolling the Centre. Dr. Thomas Held, Director of Avenir Suisse, a renowned, independent Swiss think tank, whose name translates to "Swiss Future", was the evening's keynote speaker.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Anne Keller, Swiss Re's Head Corporate Citizenship & Art, introduced the influential Swiss contemporary artistic duo of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The two artists were commissioned to create a piece of art to commemorate the ten year anniversary. The artwork consists of two sculptures made out of slow-drying concrete which evoke the moraine terrain of the surrounding region. The pieces are prominently displayed on the grounds of the Centre, and will continue to evolve and change due to the forces of nature. The Harry White Trio provided the musical backdrop which featured a piano work by the 19th century French romantic composer, Emmanuel Chabrier.

From the beginning…

Walter Kielholz spoke of the history of the site prior to Swiss Re's purchase of the property.  In the mid 1920s, Leonhard Bodmer-Vogel, a Swiss textile magnate, constructed a villa on the grounds in a neo-Baroque style reminiscent of the historical country houses in the region of Bern. The villa was handed over to the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board for use as a seminary in 1949. In the 1990s after Swiss Re acquired the former Villa Bodmer, which has landmark status, it engaged the Zurich architectural team of Meili & Peter to create the centre for dialogue, which opened its doors for the first time on 15 November 2000.

… to being a platform for dialogue on the crucial topics of our times

Over the past ten years, the Center has become known as a place to discuss and explore important topics on the global risk landscapes which impact the insurance and financial worlds. Concerns related to the world's fast ageing population was one of the first topics to be considered at the Centre.  A decade later, demographic change is one of the major concerns of the 21st century. Terrorism, climate change, the growing intensity and frequency of natural catastrophes, pervasive computing, nanotechnology, energy security, integrated risk management and many others. It is a place to gather, think, and engage in dialogue on these and other topics.

The Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue is also home to various networks of risk experts, academics, government leaders and private organizations. Through which the Centre serves to promote research in the fields of risk recognition and classification in industry as well as in science.

The Centre has established a reputation for excellence. This is evidenced by the high quality of the approximately 5,000 events which were held at the Centre over the past ten years and the many distinguished speakers and guests included in the 120,000 people that have come here. With this in mind, Thomas Held, ended his remarks by stating, "I have a favorite concert hall. I similarly have a favorite location for events. For me the best venue - in terms of organization, visitors and activities - is the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue. “

This article is based on CGD 10 year gala celebration, which took place at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue on 5 July, 2010.

Summary by Irene Maag and Rick Perdian