Celestial Sphere Restoration Project (Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Closing Date for Receipt of EOI: June 26, 2018
  • EOI Number: EOIUNOG15188
  • Address EOI response by e-mail to the Attention of: Jonathan Morgan
  • E-mail Address: jonathan.morgan@un.org
  • UNSPSC Code: 93141707, 72000000, 72102902

Description of requirements

  • Art conservation / restoration of the sculpture “Celestial Sphere Woodrow Wilson Memorial” (by Paul H. Manship) at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland;
  • Site Civil Works and Landscaping Works related to the construction of the foundation to support the Celestial Sphere and reflecting pool and landscaping works in the area of the Celestial Sphere.

The United Nations Office in Geneva (UN Geneva), Switzerland, located at the Palais des Nations, is the largest United Nations Office in Europe, providing conference support and facilitating the multi-lateral international diplomacy of the worldwide community.

Services are required by the United Nation Geneva, for the Celestial Sphere Restoration Project, to restore the Celestial Sphere sculpture itself, to replace the mechanism that rotates the sculpture, to light the sculpture, to re-build the foundation and reflecting pool surrounding the sculpture, and to landscape immediately around the sculpture.

Description of the “Celestial Sphere”
The “Celestial Sphere Woodrow Wilson Memorial” is a large outdoor sculpture installed at the Palais des Nations in 1939. The sculpture was donated to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the 1919 founding of the League of Nations and to honor the leadership of American President Woodrow Wilson in establishing the League. The Celestial Sphere is a world-class work of art and a masterwork of the American sculptor Paul Manship.

The Celestial Sphere is in the shape of an armillary sphere about 4 meters in diameter with axes made of steel clad in bronze. The sculpture depicts the constellations of the heavens as seen from Earth and weighs over six tons. Attached to the axes are cast bronze figures, including about 64 statuettes representing the constellations as described in classical mythology (Scorpio, Orion, Pisces, etc.) and nearly 1,000 silver stars. Under the project, the sculpture will be disassembled, its parts conserved, and the restored sculpture reassembled. The artist intended the sculpture to rotate, and the project includes restoring that capability with modern technology. The Celestial Sphere currently rests on a base in a reflecting pool located on the Cour d’honneur in the center of the Palais des Nations. Under the project, the original reflecting pool and base will be demolished, the site regraded, and a similar reflecting pool and base constructed. The project calls for a new lighting and landscaping plan to be implemented in the area around the Celestial Sphere.

The Celestial Sphere is a well-known symbol of the United Nations and of “International Geneva.” After nearly 80 years, the sculpture needs significant restoration. Previous restoration efforts have been limited by a lack of resources. The rules of the United Nations do not allow general funds to be spent for art or art restoration. The current project is possible due to a generous private donation. The plan is to have the restoration project completed by the end of August 2019 so that the restored Celestial Sphere may be unveiled as part of a celebration of the centennial of the founding of the League of Nations.

Description of Requirements
This art preservation and historic preservation project will call upon many diverse skills, trades and crafts. In recognition of this, the bidding exercise for the Restoration Project will have the option to allow vendors to bid for discrete lots, or for the entire scope of work. Therefore UNOG wants to encourage contractors with specific relevant skills to respond individually to this Request for Expression of Interest, as well as companies that might be interested in taking on the whole scope of works. The following specific tasks, among others, will be part of the project:


(a) Art conservation / preservation works (a) Disassemble the sculpture, weighing over six tons; (b) Replace the original steel supporting structure with modern stainless steel, in collaboration with civil engineering contractor; (c) Remove, clean, gild and reinstall over 60 cast bronze statuettes; (d) Remove, clean, plate and reinstall approximately 1,000 cast bronze stars; (e) Recreate and cast in bronze one constellation statuette (missing from the sculpture); (f) Recreate and cast in bronze and plate four (4) different sizes of stars (exact number to be determined); (g) Carefully replace historic patination on sculptural elements; (h) Cast and replace letters, numbers and other missing features of original sculpture; (i) Repair cracks in original bronze socle or base of the sculpture; Site civil works and landscaping works (j) Construction of a new cement sculpture foundation with vertical steel support columns for a 6-ton sculpture; (k) Examine the original 1939 mechanical rotating mechanism and devise a modern day replacement that will slowly rotate the sculpture on an existing axis, at a speed of about one rotation every five (5) minutes; (l) Design and install modern rotating mechanism (including any needed modifications to the sculpture and its base); (m) Design and install lighting for the sculpture, reflecting pool and surrounding landscaping; (n) Demolish and remove reflecting pool basin and cement sculpture pedestal, both with asbestos containing material; (o) Re-build the reflecting pool using the existing historic limestone (travertine) coping; (p) Design and install hardscape landscaping features (steps, curbs, benches, pavers); (q) Regrade the soil in the area adjacent to the Celestial Sphere; (r) Design and install landscape plantings (flower beds, hedges, ground cover);

Specific Requirements / Information
1. EOI should be expressed from firms / entities with:

  1. Art conservation / preservation works a. Minimum of five (5) years of proven experience in providing art conservation / preservation of outdoor metal sculptures, including experience with conservation and repatination of gilded bronze outdoor sculpture.
  2. Member in good standing of relevant art preservation professional organization. Site civil works and landscaping works
  3. Minimum of five (5) years of proven experience in providing site civil works, including experience with restoration of historic stone and masonry, landscaping and soil re-grading works
  4. Knowledge of local regulations and industry practices for similar work in the area of Geneva, Switzerland.

Information on tendering for the UN Procurement System is available free of charge at the following address: https://www.ungm.org/Public/Notice.

Only the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM) has been authorized to collect a nominal fee from vendors that wish to receive automatically Procurement Notices or Requests for Expression Of Interest. Vendors interested in this Tender Alert Service are invited to subscribe on www.ungm.org.

Vendors interested in participating in the planned solicitation process should complete/submit the Vendor Response Form of this EOI electronically at jonathan.morgan@un.org t o the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) before the closing date.

For a full description and vendor response form, visit:  www.un.org/depts/ptd/pdf/eoi15188.pdf.

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