NATO summit 2017
The gathering of world leaders in Brussels for the 2017 NATO Summit also marked the official opening of NATO’s spectacular €1 billion headquarters building.
Among the many world leaders attending the inauguration ceremony were US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel and The King of Belgium.
NATO’s original headquarters was built in 1967 but since then the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has almost doubled from 15 to 29 nations. As the numbers of diplomatic representatives based in the building dramatically increased over the years, over-crowding meant a new larger headquarters was required to accommodate all of the officials.
The new building, which took nearly seven years to design and construct, covers 250,000 square metres. The innovative design, signifying the linking of two hands, even allows for future expansion if necessary, ensuring the Allies have all the space they require for years to come.
Neptunus, working in conjunction with leading international live events company Production World, were appointed by NATO to provide the complex temporary infrastructure for the summit and inauguration ceremony for the new headquarters building.
Neptunus provided a vast range of stylish temporary structures situated in and around the state-of-the-art NATO building for the high-profile inauguration event which proceeded a working dinner of NATO leaders hosted by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
For the main ceremony within the NATO grounds technicians from Neptunus built two covered grandstands with transparent roofs and side walls. One of the Alure Globe structures, measuring 200 square metres, accommodated all the VVIPs and a second 250 square metres Alure Globe seated VIPs attending the event.
Neptunus also erected two 150 square metres Alure Globe roof covers for the areas where the military band played and the world’s media viewed the proceedings. Away from the new headquarters building (at the current HQ) Neptunus constructed a media centre, covering 4,800 square metres and incorporating work stations for 1,200 journalists with 60 sound-proofed editing booths, along with accreditation and security screening halls covering more than 1,400 square metres. The security screening area required concrete flooring for the base of the building to ensure that sophisticated screening machines were correctly stabilised.
In addition, Neptunus supplied podiums and backdrops for several ceremonies which formed part of the official opening. Technicians also built a 900 square metre transparent roof over the top of a public walkway where Chancellor Merkel dedicated a memorial to the Berlin Wall and where President Trump dedicated a memorial to commemorate the 9/11 atrocity and Article 5 – a NATO commitment that an attack on one member nation is seen as an attack on all member states.
It took Neptunus just four weeks to build all the temporary facilities for one of the most high-profile assignments undertaken by the company. As well as providing all the temporary structures Neptunus, working with Production World, were responsible for the entire project management including co-ordinating sub-contractors for power, lighting, air conditioning, audio visual equipment, signage, staging, furniture and installation of security equipment.
Such a major global event requires many months of meticulous planning and preparation.
Security is absolutely paramount whenever the world’s Heads of State and Government gather at NATO Summits. With the Brussel’s summit also involving the official opening of the new headquarters building – and in the current climate of global terrorism – security was naturally more stringent than ever.
For Neptunus this meant that as well as providing a large range of very high-quality temporary buildings with sophisticated staging, backdrops and audio visual systems, befitting an occasion which was broadcast around the world, technicians had to work around ultra-intensive security. This involved a thorough vetting of all personnel working on the project and rigorous inspections of the numerous trucks delivering hundreds of tonnes of heavy equipment to site.
However, the team at Neptunus are immensely experienced at operating in demanding environments. Over the years Neptunus has worked successfully on major projects for various Governments around the world including the 2016 NATO Summit held in Warsaw, Poland.
Following the event NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the efforts of Neptunus and the rest of the suppliers who he said had “been working behind-the-scenes for months to ensure a smooth-running event – and I am immensely grateful for your hard work.”
Mr Stoltenberg added: “It was a long but very successful day, and I know the leaders were as impressed as I was, not just by the new headquarters but everything that happened – from the tightly-choreographed arrivals to the spectacular fly-past. Even the Brussels weather was on best behaviour. Together, I believe we showed the world NATO at its best – a modern, forward-looking alliance working hard to keep our citizens safe – and I feel real pride in what you all achieved. We can look back on the day with great satisfaction.”