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History of the Mont-Blanc Cark Park

In the 1950s, Jean de Toledo, a visionary retailer and car enthusiast, campaigned for the realisation of a large car park facilitating access to Geneva’s town centre and shops. This large-scale project, adopted by the Grand Conseil in April 1969, achieved the feat of a construction under the water of Geneva Lake!

A thrilling human challenge
1968

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Having hosted Charles Lloyd in its first year, the Montreux Jazz Festival welcomed Nina Simone and Bill Evans, among others. Founded by Claude Nobs, it has endured through the years, welcoming the big names in jazz, including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock, but also the Rolling Stones and, more recently, acts such as Cypress Hill and REM, among others.

A tireless activist against racial segregation in the United States, the Black minister was assassinated on the 4th by a white supremacist in Memphis, Tennessee.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released in theatres.

The works

Before the Work Began.

A draft filed in 1964 anticipated two 600-space silos, located on solid ground and connected by a tunnel. It was in 1967 that the company Conrad Zschokke S.A. won the tender, proposing an alternative plan for a 1200-car parking garage located on the Rhône riverbed.

  • Prior to the start of work
1969

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Pope Paul VI attended the 50th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and became the 5th pope to set foot in French-speaking Switzerland.

The American astronaut Neil Armstrong walks on the moon.

In New York state, the Woodstock festival attracts more than 500 000
visitors instead of the anticipated 50 000!

The 6th chapter in the adventures of the famous British secret agent James Bond was released in cinemas, with the Australian actor George Lazenby cast in the leading role.

The works

The works of Geneva's future under-lake car park began in July.

The firm ZSCHOKKE — today IMPLENIA — built a containment dyke and dried the construction zone. Once the water had been pumped out, it spread 10 000 m2 of gravel to allow access to the works vehicles!

  • Beginn der Bauarbeiten
1970

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In February, the world’s largest plane, the Boeing 747, landed at Cointrin airport. Although entirely renovated, the airport had to adapt to the size of the plane and the number passengers it carried.

The Beatles break up!

China launched its first satellite, which made one complete orbit of the Earth in 114 minutes.

The Concorde 001 attained Mach 2, that is to say twice the speed of sound!

The GHI published its first issue on 6 November 1970.

The works

Meanwhile,

The works on the car park were advancing well. The building perimeter had been enclosed by moulded walls 87cm thick and 14m high. In March, an 85cm thick concrete platform was cast. In April the first slab was coffered. In July, it was the turn of the second slab. The instability of the land required the greatest prudence
Concrete, concrete, always concrete!

  • Building is progressing
1971

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Women obtained the right to vote in Switzerland, fifty years after its neighbouring countries, Germany and Austria.

Caroline Davidson, a student in graphic art at the University of Portland, designed the Nike logo for $35!

One of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky, died on 6 April in New York.

In Paris, paid parking came into force for four-wheeled vehicles in certain areas of the town.

In October 1971, Switzerland welcomed the Japanese emperor Hirohito on an official visit during his tour of Europe. He is the first reigning emperor to go abroad on an official visit!

The works

Meanwhile,

On the site of the car park, the firm ZSCHOKKE terminated the structural works. In March, the 3rd and last slab was coffered.

  • End of the main stage

In April, the construction of the access ramps required major deviations of traffic which had to be maintained on the avenue de Mont-Blanc with three lanes in both directions. A few months later the structure of the facility was almost finished!

1972

Latest news

It was in that year the Geneva Servette Hockey Club won the last Swiss cup in the match against the Tecino club HC Ambri-Piotta.

In France, the first TGV high speed train was put into service.

The French man, Alain Colas won the single-handed transatlantic race on the Pen Dick IV in 20 days thirteen hours and fifteen minutes.

Eddy Merckx was an outstanding personality and a myth in cycling.

A free trade agreement was concluded between the European Economic Community and the countries members of the European Free Trade association with the aim of facilitating trade.

The works

Meanwhile,

At the start of 1972, the works were practically completed! All that needed to be done was to install the escalators and ensure waterproofing on the upper slab of the infrastructure using a multilayer covering protected by a reinforced slab.

  • Completion within sight

After 176 months of formalities and less than 28 months of works, the under-lake car park was ready to accommodate the first vehicles on 24 May 1972 for its inauguration. The impounding of the car park, on the other hand, was only carried out the following year.
It was a considerable feat made possible by the exceptional enterprising spirit of the initiators and the management of the firm ZSCHOKKE. Congratulations to everyone and long live Geneva!

  • Completion of the construction

The archives

Follow the guide!

Visit the Mont-Blanc car park with Zorro, an outstanding specialist of the Mont Blanc car park!

Geneva HES university of architecture archive – hepia

Follow the work site in images and discover this exciting challenge through this video from our archives!


Official documents and speech

The Construction Project

Worth a read: detailed description of the project; details of the execution, geotechnical conditions, and plans.

ZSCHOKKE Report

All the figures and details of the construction of the Mont-Blanc car park by the general contractor ZSCHOKKE (now IMPLENIA).

Contributors to the Project

Browse the list of promoters, a summary of the agreement between the Canton of Geneva and the Mont-Blanc Bridge Car Park, and the implementation timetable.

Mr. Guy’s speech

Discover the speech pronounced by the Director, Mr. Guy, at the 1st Congress of the European Car Park Association in 1983.


Press and ads

Tribune de Genève, Thursday, 25 May 1972: The Car Park under the Lake is Open

The newspaper devoted an entire page to the opening of the “underwater garage”: 1700 guests at the opening ceremony and Jean de Toledo, President of the Mont-Blanc Car Park Society, at the festivities.

Full-page advertisement in the Tribune de Genève on Monday, 24 May 1982

20 Million Users in 15 Years

On Monday, 1st June 1987, the car park welcomed its 20 millionth user, 15 years after it opened. A brief ceremony marked the event.

176 months of processes – 28 months construction

15 years after its inauguration, how is the Mont-Blanc Bridge Car Park doing in terms of environmental friendliness and quality of life?

Good parking = Good business

The construction of the car park under the lake was a real booster for local business: context and noteworthy statistics (in English).