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COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | European Central Bank (ECB)

Architecture COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | European Central Bank (ECB)

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.

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | European Central Bank (ECB)

© European Central Bank/Robert Metsch

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.

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | European Central Bank (ECB)

© European Central Bank/Robert Metsch

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.

COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | European Central Bank (ECB)

© European Central Bank/Robert Metsch

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.

Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Architect: COOP HIMMELB(L)AU | Wolf D. Prix / W. Dreibholz & Partner ZT GmbH
Design Principal/CEO: Wolf D. Prix
Project Partner: Frank Stepper
Project Architects: Hartmut Hank, Christian Halm, Thomas Schwed,
Michael Beckert (TPL), Johannes Behrens (TPL), Günther Weber, Jürgen Tiltmann (TPL), Oliver Cassik (TPL), Philipp Munz (TPL)
Design Architects: Karin Miesenberger, Stefan Rutzinger, Kristina Schinegger
Architectural Management: Christian Maeder, Sascha Hempel, Markus Tritthart, Damian Witt
Project Team: Magdalena Baczkowska, Markus Baumann, Michael Beckert, Johannes Behrens, Hilde Benda, Marcelo Bernardi, Nico Boyer, Jan Brosch, Timo Carl, Anna Rita Cedroni, Jasmin Dieterle, Sabrina Dlugosch, Jan Ruben Fischer, Brigitte Fuchs, Sergio Gonzales, Gesine Görlich, Martin Gruber, Guthu Hallstein, Sebastian Haffner, Simone Hainz, Sascha Hempel, Rob Henderson, Emanuele Iacono, Martin Jelinek, Rashmi Krishna Jois, Ivana Jug, Frank Pascal Kaul, Matt Kirkham, Daniela Kröhnert, Bernward Krone, Christian Labud, Anke Lammert, Monika Lyzyczka, Steven M, Christian Maeder, Dimitra Mamou, Ariane Marx, Christoph Maurer, Matthias Niemeyer, Martin Oberascher, Ross Olson, Renate Ott, Gerhard Pfeiler, Ellen Pietrzyk, James Pike, Robert Pippan, Jakob Przybylo, Anna Ptaszynska, Stephanie Rathgeber, Carmen Renz, Salome Reves, Donna Riedel, Akvile Rimantaite, Pete Rose, Penelope Rüttimann, Stefan Rutzinger, Oliver Sachse, Kristina Schinegger, Benjamin Schmidt, Marita Schnepper, Thomas Siegl, Ebru Simsek-Lenk, Denise Sokolowski, Augustin Solorzano, Anja Sorger, Andrea Stöllenwerk, Ernst Stockinger, Crystal K.H Tang, Jürgen Tiltmann, Markus Tritthart, Josef Tröster, Günther Weber, Andreas Weissenbach, Clemens Werb, Judith Werkhäuser, Markus Wings, Eva Wolf, Barbara Zeleny, Thomas Zengger, Zeyneb Badur, Fabien Barthelemey, Oliver Cassik, Alejandro Corena, Alexander Daxböck, Mario Dignöss, Helmut Frötscher, Annegret Haider, Christian Halm, Gregor Kassl, Gernot Köfer, Alexander Laber, Anita Lischka, Rangel Malinov, Oliver Martinz, Philipp Munz, Barbara Roller, Nicole Rumpler, Wolfgang Ruthensteiner, Stefan Salchinger, Stefan Schadenböck, Thomas Schwed, Hannes Schwed, Eckart Schwerdtfeger, Sylvia Spernbauer, Christoph Treberspurg, Johannes Weigl
Model Building: Ivana Jug, Filip Adamczak, Anna Balint, Mark Balzar, Oliver Berger, Robert Campell, Julian Chiellino, Ariane Dehghan, Jasmin Dieterle, Guido Ebbert, Heike Folie, Emilia Grzadzielewska, Benjamin Hahn, Laura Hannappel, Thomas Hindelang, Michael Hirschbichler, Ulrich Hoke, Rafal Jedlinski, Malte Kaiser, Reyhan Kargi, Vera Kleesattel, Stefan Kotzenmacher, Quirin Krumbholz, Daniel Kuhnert, Gretha Kuustra, Malgorzata Labecka, Jelena Lazic, Marta Leszczynska, Jörg Lonkwitz, Rita Lopez, Ariane Marx, Bruno Mock, Sarah Müller, Yusuke Nishimura, Seoug O, Ross Olson, Ulrich Peintner, Fabian Peitzmeier, Anna Ptaszynska, Jois Rashmi, Danuta Ratka, Salome Reeves, Benjamin Schmidt, Thomas Stock, Kadri Tamre, Philipp Trumpke, Andreas Wachter, Angelika Wiegand, Melanie Wohlrab
3D Vizualisation: Armin Hess (Wien)
Photography: Markus Pillhofer
Client: European Central Bank (ECB), Frankfurt/M., Germany
Structural Engineer: B+G Ingenieure, Bollinger und Grohmann GmbH, Frankfurt/M., Germany
Phase 1: 2003
Phase 2: 2003-2004
Revision Phase: 2004
Optimization Phase: 2005
Start of Planning: 2005
Preliminary site works: 2008
Main construction works: 2010
Scheduled Opening: 2014
Project 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
Height 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 foundation piles: 97 piles Maximum 37 meters
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
Heigth of the entrance building: maximum 27.50 meters
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