On the occasion of establishing the Ius Alumni in 2004, the Chairman of the founding meeting, the then Dean, Professor Andreas Donatsch, spoke about his vision of ‘Science House’. This vision was motivated by the planning and introduction of the double degree Master's programs of the Faculty of Law with renowned foreign schools of law. During the cooperation negotiations it became clear that the availability of affordable accommodation or a campus at the University of Zurich for foreign students – who were to exchange ideas and experiences with Swiss students at the Zurich faculty – would be crucial for the success of the negotiations and for the double degree Master’s programs to materialize. It became apparent that Zurich students could only expect to be admitted to Master's degree programs abroad if in turn students of foreign faculties were not only able to complete their Master’s degree program here in Zurich, but also able to find affordable accommodation.
By implementing the ‘Science House’ project, Professor Andreas Donatsch aimed to provide affordable accommodation for students of partner faculties. At the same time, rooms were to be created that would facilitate contacts between students of the Faculty of Law and foreign law students, but also encourage a lively exchange between students of all nations and teaching staff of the Faculty of Law. As such, not only Zurich law students who had been admitted to a foreign faculty under a cooperation agreement would benefit from an international cooperation with foreign universities, but also those who stayed home. The facilities at the ‘Science House’ would make it possible to meet foreign law students and gain a wealth of experience from multicultural encounters.
After a brief search, the Alumni organization of the Faculty of Law of the University of Zurich was offered a real estate property of the Canton of Zurich at Sophienstrasse 1 in Zurich. Shortly before Christmas 2005, the Alumni organization was given the building, albeit on the condition that the purchase price be paid, and the title transferred, already in February 2006. On December 12, 2005, the charitable Alumni Foundation was established, which became the owner of this real estate property. With great commitment, the Foundation Board’s Chairman, Professor Andreas Donatsch, managed to acquire sponsors, whose generous donations made it possible for the Alumni Foundation to purchase the real estate property and plan the refurbishment of the building. The purchase agreement with a purchase price of CHF 2,000,000 was concluded on February 3, 2006, subject to approval by the Government Council. This was received on July 19, 2006 and so the title was transferred at the Zurich-Hottingen land registry on July 27, 2006.
The Calatrava architecture firm, as the main sponsor, subsequently created the conversion project, for which planning permission was granted on December 19, 2006, subject to some costly additional requirements. The conversion work started in August 2007. Halter Generalunternehmung AG was commissioned with overseeing the work. This company, owned by the Foundation Board member and alumnus dipl. Bau-Ing. and lic.iur. Jost Balthasar Halter, became active for the Alumni Foundation as an additional sponsor.
The Calatrava architecture firm, as the main sponsor, subsequently created the conversion project, for which planning permission was granted on December 19, 2006, subject to some costly additional requirements. The conversion work started in August 2007. Halter Generalunternehmung AG was commissioned with overseeing the work. This company, owned by the Foundation Board member and alumnus dipl. Bau-Ing. and lic.iur. Jost Balthasar Halter, became active for the Alumni Foundation as an additional sponsor. The students could finally move into the property in mid-February 2008. The opening ceremony was held on April 10, 2008. The house, which is today called the Ius Alumni House, offers accommodation to exchange students of the Faculty of Law of Zurich and serves as a seminar and meeting place for faculty-internal and -external events. Thanks to many generous sponsorship contributions, the purchase and conversion of the real estate property was largely financed internally.