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NATO headquarters get makeover

Scale model of a design for the new NATO headquarters
Scale model of a design for the new NATO headquarters

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BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO has named a British team of architects as the winner of an international competition to design its new headquarters.

London-based firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) beat off entries from across the globe to come up with a replacement for the defence alliance's outdated 35-year-old offices.

The modern low-rise venue, which will be based in Brussels and shared by NATO member states, is to be made of glass, steel and concrete and will feature a central atrium.

NATO Secretary General George Robertson described the winning design as "quite remarkable" as he announced the decision in Brussels.

"The graceful structure of the new building, the striking fluidity of its lines are a testimony to NATO's modernity and efficiency," he said. "I have no doubt that NATO's new headquarters will stand as a landmark of Brussels' architectural landscape."

Larry Oltmanns, design partner for SOM in London, told the UK's Press Association: "Our design solution attempts to create the ideal environment in which an international community can fulfil a noble mission, and to give expression to that mission.

"It is a three-dimensional representation of a complex decision-making body.

"In response to the challenge this project presented, we have created an international design team that parallels the NATO organisation itself, and are very excited to have been selected as the winner," he added.

The company, which also has offices in San Francisco and Chicago, worked on the project with Belgian quantity surveyors firm Assar.

It was awarded 200,000 ($216,000) for winning the competition.

Work is expected to begin on the headquarters by at least 2005 and it is hoped the site, which is opposite the current offices, will be completed by 2008.

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