Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

• May 22, 2010

ECB 100519 rm Trichet Roth Prix 595x396 Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

Jean-Claude Trichet + Petra Roth + Wolf D. Prix, image © European Central Bank/Robert Metsch

Austrian architects Coop Himmelb(l)au won a competition to design the new headquarter for European Central Bank in 2003 with double-towered proposal. North tower comprises 45 floors with 185 meters, and South tower 43 floors with 165 meters.

This year May, the groundbreaking takes place in Frankfurt, Germany. The project is scheduled to complete in 2014.

+ Press release courtesy Coop Himmelb(l)au

Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany

The groundbreaking of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s new premises of the European Central Bank has been celebrated yesterday in attendance of Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, Petra Roth, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Wolf D. Prix, Design Principal and CEO of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, the Governing Council as well as the Governors of the National Central Banks on the site of the future new premises of the European Central Bank.

ECB 100519 rm Wolf Prix 595x396 Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

Wolf D. Prix, image © European Central Bank/Robert Metsch

During the ceremony Wolf D. Prix said in his speech for the groundbreaking:

The task of architecture is not only to provide a shell for functions, but through its architectural aesthetic it must also enable to establish three-dimensional cross-references in the culture of our globalized society without denying its location. The dialectic of old and new – the carefully renovated Großmarkthalle and the new ensemble of towers – will mirror this synchronicity.

Furthermore, he describes the towers as archetypes of architectural history, which are symbols and convey overview. In the case of the European Central Bank the towers are aligned on the new site in visual connection to Frankfurt’s city centre and – due to their new typology with its precision and significance of form – will become an icon, a three-dimensional symbol of the European Union, Mr. Prix explained.

He describes the groundbreaking as an important and decisive moment – both for the owner and future user and for the architect.

After all, it is a moment that takes us across a threshold. The threshold from the blueprint to the building: a thought building becomes a real building.

Further groundbreaking events will take place on May 31, 2010 for the House of Music in Aalborg, Denmark and on June 18, 2010 for the Martin Luther Church in Hainburg, Austria.

European Central Bank Coop Himmelblau plusMOOD 595x413 Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

European Central Bank, image © ISOCHROM.com, Vienna

+ Project description courtesy of Coop Himmelb(l)au

Urbanism and architecture

The location for the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt’s Ostend district has the potential of adding a new landmark to the Frankfurt skyline that will be visible at great distances. The starting point for the design of the towers was the urban perspectives of the city of Frankfurt.
At a height of around 185 meters, the double tower, with its polygonal shape and east-west orientation, has a striking profile that is visible from all important reference points in Frankfurt’s city center, as well as from the river Main. Thanks to its form and presence, the double tower will become a characteristic feature of the Frankfurt skyline.

Urban planning and integration

The imposing form of the Grossmarkthalle (wholesale market), which so strongly characterizes Frankfurt’s skyline and the north bank of the river Main, unites with the vertical profile of the towers to form a significant ensemble that considers both the local urban design environment and the general urban spatial context, thus creating a tension between Frankfurt’s banking district and the Ostend area. By concentrating the ECB’s functions in the Grossmarkthalle, the south side of the premises, facing the Main, can be largely kept free of construction. The prominent view of the south side of the hall from the Main embankment with the clearly visible profile of the high-rise emphasizes its special position.

The architectural concept of the tower

The tower ensemble is the result of a design process inspired by the urban links with the city of Frankfurt. Owing to its clear orientation towards the important urban perspectives, the ensemble enters into a dialogue with the important urban reference points in Frankfurt: the Alte Oper, the Museumsufer and the financial district.

Starting with the economical typology of a double-slab high-rise, a second design step combines the urban planning specifications with the geometric transformation of the towers, in order to generate a multi-faceted building structure while preserving its urban significance.

European Central Bank Coop Himmelblau plusMOOD EntranceView 595x896 Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

European Central Bank, image © COOP HIMMELB(L)AU

The vertical city

The atrium between the office towers becomes a “vertical city”. Through platforms we are creating spaces, plazas and pathways between the towers, just as they exist in a city. The connecting and transferring levels divide the atrium horizontally into three sections of different sizes, with heights ranging from around 45 to 60 meters.

These connecting platforms, bridges, ramps and stairs form a network of links between the office towers. They create short paths between the individual office floors in each tower and thus enable larger, interconnected usable office spaces on one or more floors in both towers, thereby also promoting informal communication.

This new typology supports a dynamic development of form and enables differentiated office spaces with different panoramic perspectives.

European Central Bank Coop Himmelblau plusMOOD NorthEast 595x335 Groundbreaking of the new premises of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt | Coop Himmelb(l)au

European Central Bank, image © COOP HIMMELB(L)AUEuropean

The Grossmarkthalle – a forum for communication

Our design reinforces the Grossmarkthalle’s existing potential as an “urban foyer” housing a conference and visitor center, as well as a library and restaurant, through the incorporation of a building for the press center which traverses the structure of the Grossmarkthalle. This so-called entrance building, in which ECB press conferences will be held, occupies a special position in content, form and space and thereby marks the entrance to the ECB.

Since the western parts of the Grossmarkthalle were reconstructed after being destroyed during the Second World War and do not, therefore, represent part of the substance of the original building – even in the way they are constructed – we propose, as agreed with the historic preservation authority, that the incision for the new entrance to the ECB be in this part of the hall.

We continued to develop the concept of integrating the extensive functional areas into the Grossmarkthalle, as suggested during the Optimisation Phase. As before, the required new facilities are being placed in the spacious interior of the hall as independent building structures (the “house within a house” concept). The building structures, which are at diagonal angles to the Grossmarkthalle, allow the hall to be experienced along dynamic spatial sequences – and this not only in the public areas of the hall’s ground floor, but also on the upper levels, which, with their conference and restaurant facilities, are largely reserved for employees of the ECB. The restaurant structure, as a visible sign of the new functional areas in the hall, generously orients the employee restaurant and terrace towards the Main in the south.

+ Project credits

PLANNING: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU – Wolf D. Prix / W. Dreibholz & Partner ZT GmbH
DESIGN PRINCIPAL: Wolf D. Prix
PROJECT PARTNER: Frank Stepper
PROJECT ARCHITECT: Hartmut Hank
DESIGN ARCHITECT: Karin Miesenberger

3D VISUALIZATION: Armin Hess (Vienna)
PHOTOGRAPHY: Markus Pillhofer
CLIENT: European Central Bank (ECB), Frankfurt/M., Germany
STRUCTURAL ENIGNEER: B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt/M., Germany

+ General data

SITE AREA: 120,000 m²
GROSS FLOOR AREA: 185,000 m²

+ Data high-rise

FLOOR SPACE PER OFFICE FLOOR (ONE TOWER): 700 to 1200 m² (varying according to shape)

HEIGHT OF HIGH-RISE:
North tower 185 meters: 45 floors including the ground floor and technical floors
South tower 165 meters: 43 floors, 220 meters high including the communication mast

HEIGTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS WITHIN THE ATRIUM: 45 to 72 meters
WIDTH OF THE ATRIUM: 18 meters

LIFTS IN THE HIGH-RISE:
2 goods lifts
5 express lifts
9 twin lifts
2 special lifts

NUMBER OF DEPTH OF THE: 97 piles
FOUNDATION PILES: Maximum 37 meters

+ Data Grossmarkthalle

INTERNAL LENGTH AND WIDTH OF THE HALL: 220 m x 50 m = 11,000 m²
HEIGHT OF THE HALL: 23.50 meters at the highest point of the barrel vaults
INTERNAL LENGTH AND WIDTH OF THE WING BUILDINGS: 65 m x 15 m = 975 m²
HEIGHT OF THE OFFICE WINGS: 32.50 meters – 8 floors
HEIGHT OF THE ENTRANCE BUILDING: Maximum 27.50 meters

+ Chronology

COMPETITION:
Phase 1: 2003
Phase 2: 2003-2004
Revision Phase: 2004

OPTIMIZATION PHASE: 2005
START O PLANNING: 2005
PRELIMINARY SITE WORKS: 2008
MAIN CONSTRUCTION WORKS: 2010
SCHEDULED OPENING: 2014

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Category: Architecture, Office

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