For the design of the Peace Palace the jury launched an international architecture competition. The competition enjoyed enormous interest: a choice had to be made out of 216 contributions sent in from all over the world. From the large variety of drawings the jury selected 6 prize winners and awarded first prize to the design entered by the French architect Louis Cordonnier. The choice for Cordonnier’s design, which was inspired by the architecture of earlier centuries, led to a fierce architectural debate. Many had hoped for a building that also in its appearance would inaugurate a new age.
Cordonnier’s original design was quite exuberant, and impossible to realize within the 1.5 million dollars budget provided by Carnegie for the purpose. The French architect was asked to adapt and simplify his design, resulting in the original number of four towers being brought down to only two. A final design was made in collaboration with the established architect Johan van der Steur, who was also appointed as executive architect for the construction of the palace. In six years’ time, an impressive building in the style of the neo-renaissance arose on the grounds of the former estate Zorgvliet, where former Dutch queen Anna Pavlovna had once resided. The great and small towers mark the two courtrooms, the most important spaces in the palace.