The seat of the Commission, the symbolic Berlaymont building, was in dire need of renovation due to the discovery of asbestos in its construction. A new building was rapidly needed to house President and his college of Commissioners, as the issue of the location of European Union institutions was being discussed and any delays could lead to the Commission withdrawing from the city.
Plans for the building were already being prepared by the bank BACOB due to the rapidly expanding needs of the Commission, though the entire block would be needed to house the 1300 civil servants and auxiliary services. Foreseeing this, developers had bought a block of houses each on the area to ensure they all received a slice of the pie when the land was bought up. The main building was ready just in time for the transfer of Commission staff at the end of 1991, and expansion continued through the 1990s.
The President and most of the Commission moved back to the Berlaymont when renovation was completed in 2004, however the Commission has bought the building when it moved in (one of the first times it bought a building rather than rented it) and it is still a Commission building today, housing the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry and the Directorate-General for Budget.
The building was designed by André and Jean Polak, who designed the Berlaymont, together with Marc Vanden Bossche and Johan Van Dessel. It took just 23 months to build.
- Demey, Thierry (2007). Brussels, capital of Europe. S. Strange (trans.). Brussels: Badeaux. pp. 300–1. ISBN 2-9600414-2-9.
- List and maps of Commission buildings in Brussels, Office for Infrastructures and Logistics - Brussels (European Commission). Accessed 2008-08-26.