The Circle at Zurich Airport


The Circle at Zurich Airport opens its doors today. Schindler has followed the build, which has become famous as Switzerland’s largest construction site, from the very beginning.  

Operations at The Circle, which until completion counted as Switzerland’s largest construction site, began in early 2015. As many as 1 200 people worked on seven office space modules, two hotels and a convention center, a medical center, as well as shops and showrooms. Construction workers built 14 000 high-strength concrete columns, each of which can bear a huge load. The result is a large but elegant building with and impressive overhanging glass façade. The entire project covers 180 000 square meters – complete with its own airport and connections to the Swiss rail and motorway networks.

Schindler and the project team have been on board since the beginning. The Circle has one of the highest densities of Schindler installations anywhere in the world. More than 20 elevator installation engineers and specialists have been responsible for this massive task. A total of 97 Schindler elevators and 12 escalators can today be found in the complex.

Challenging installation

The components for the elevators were transported to the site from Schindler’s production sites in Europe. One single elevator even required 45 boxes, which then had to be lifted by crane through a hole with a diameter of just five meters into the basement, and then moved through the building complex to the elevator shafts.

Collaboration was the magic word on a site like The Circle. Problems needed to be anticipated early on and the right people needed to be informed in good time. And smooth project execution was essential when working under immense time pressure.

For Schindler, The Circle has always been much more than major logistics; it’s also a place of innovation, where theory was put into practice. The building silhouette of The Circle could not exceed a defined height to ensure that the flight operations radar from the neighboring airport is not affected. Therefore, Schindler had to reduce the standard headroom height on 61 of The Circle’s elevators so that they would fit perfectly.  

Schindler R.I.S.E at work

A revolutionary Schindler innovation, the Robotic Installation System for Elevators (Schindler R.I.S.E), was also put to work for the first time under routine conditions in The Circle. The autonomous, self-climbing robot assists in the safe and precise installation of elevators. It drills holes in concrete walls and sets anchor bolts that provide greater precision when installing guide rails. One of the challenges was to transport the heavy robot to the elevator shafts as efficiently as possible. From an economic perspective, it is important for the robot to be deployed as rapidly as possible once it arrives on the construction site.

For Schindler, The Circle has been a great project all round and we’re proud to see that Switzerland’s biggest construction site has now evolved into a fascinating architectural masterpiece at a fantastic location!  

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