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Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister and Finance Minister of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and Governor of the EIB, and Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank, today laid the first stone of the Bank's new building in the presence of Paul Helminger, Mayor of the City of Luxembourg, the architect Christoph Ingenhoven and a number of key figures from the government, diplomatic corps and European institutions in Luxembourg.

Short speeches were given by Wolfgang Roth, EIB Vice President and member of the Management Committee with responsibility for the Bank's buildings, Mr Helminger, Mr Ingenhoven, Mr Maystadt and Mr Juncker. After the speeches, two blocks of glass were sealed into which was inserted the Headquarters Agreement between the Luxembourg Government and the EIB, updated in 1986, establishing Luxembourg as the EIB's definitive place of business. This "first stone" will be incorporated into the main entrance to the new building.

This ceremony marks the launch of the main works in a project which began in 2003 and will be completed in 2007 with the delivery of 72 500 m² of offices and facilities able to house up to 750 people.

The building's architecture will be innovative, sober and functional, and was conceived entirely with environmental and ecological factors in mind, in line with the selection criteria of the international architecture competition governing its design. The transparent glass shell enveloping the building, combined with the presence of winter gardens and atria, will optimise the use of natural resources and reduce energy consumption and environmental emissions.

These environmental qualities, which far exceed the requirements of current regulations, have been awarded a "Very Good" rating under the BREEAM system (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), a highly regarded British certification now adapted for the first time to Luxembourg legislation. The EIB project is the first in mainland Europe to receive the BESPOKE BREEAM certification.

The new building will be situated between boulevard Konrad Adenauer and Val des Bons Malades, forming an extension of the EIB's existing headquarters in the North European Quarter in Kirchberg, Luxembourg. It was designed by the Düsseldorf firm of architects Ingenhoven und Partner Architekten (IPA). In 2002, following an architects-designers competition in which 56 candidate architects from around the world took part, IPA's project was selected by an international jury chaired by Ricardo Bofill.

The decision to undertake this major construction project was taken at the end of 2001 by the Bank's Management Committee in response to the need for more space created by the growth in EIB activities and responsibilities, particularly in the context of enlargement of the European Union.

The EIB has been established in Luxembourg since 1968, initially leasing offices in Place de Metz before moving to the Kirchberg Plateau in 1980. It was the first European institution to construct and own its headquarters, to which an extension was added in 1995.

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