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Skytower - Sitz der Europäischen Zentralbank (EZB)

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) is located in Frankfurt’s City East and consists of two elements: the former wholesale market hall (Großmarkthalle) from 1928 and a 185-meter-high double tower with a shared facade.

The ECB skyscraper was built in the architectural style of deconstructivism: From a distance you have the feeling that the towers leaning against one another cannot actually stand. The high-rise building of the ECB is called Skytower and with its antenna reaches a height of 201 meters (659 feet).

ECB Frankfurt - aerial photo of ECB Tower - ECB Skytower Frankfurt - ECB Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany
ECB sitemap - plan of European Central Bank grounds

Planning of the New ECB Premises

In the summer of 2001, the ECB concluded an urban planning framework agreement with the City of Frankfurt on the development of the area at the former wholesale market hall, and the purchase agreement followed in March 2002. In November 2002 a two-phase competition was announced, in which a total of 80 architectural offices were invited (70 well-known and 10 ambitious planning offices).

The international jury selected twelve concepts for the second phase from the 71 anonymous entries submitted. In this phase, the designs had to be specified in terms of shape and grouping of the building dimensions. Fundamental changes to the concept were still possible here.

In February 2004, the ECB Governing Council finally recognized three winners and invited the participants to a final revision. In January 2005 the decision was made in favor of the concept by COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, as this design best met the functional and technical requirements.

Construction Phase

The ECB complex was built between 2010 and 2013 and includes not only the high-rise tower but also the listed wholesale market hall. The construction work for the new ECB building was grouped into trade packages and lots. The tender for construction management and project coordination were also awarded separately. A concrete mixing plant was built in the southeast of the property for the shell construction of the high-rise. Due to the size of the property, building materials and prefabricated parts were temporarily stored on the property during the construction phase.

The ECB Skytower rests on a combined pile and slab foundation and has 97 piles that extend up to 37 meters (121 feet) into the ground. The steel skeleton construction of the high-rise building can be divided into two main assemblies: the mutual bracing and connection of the two high-rise towers as well as the steel structures on the top of the high-rise buildings with the steel structures there and the construction of the council meeting room.

Due to the rotation of the building and the sloping facades, each floor is designed individually and was shuttered and poured accordingly. The overhangs of the facade are 12 meters at the most extreme point. The facade on the Skytower was designed by the architects as a vertically inclined in a so-called “hyperbolic” shape.

The facade used contains closed box windows and was designed in such a way that natural ventilation is possible, whereby openable windows do not emerge from the facade.

During the redevelopment of the wholesale market hall, originally designed by Martin Elsaesser in 1928, unexpected challenges arose in terms of statics and execution, which is why plans had to be adapted several times to the resulting situations. At the time of its completion, the wholesale market hall was the largest column-free reinforced concrete hall in the world. A modern entrance building was integrated into the wholesale market hall, a protruding component in which the press center is housed. The wholesale market hall is one of only five buildings in Frankfurt that still has a paternoster.

Usage

The offices in the ECB skyscraper were occupied in 2014 and have air-conditioned ceilings that combine the functions of heating and cooling. Underfloor heating ensures a pleasant climate in the atrium of the office tower and in the wholesale market hall. Water pipes were laid in the floor coverings of the transfer platforms in the atrium and the large open spaces within the wholesale market hall, through which cold or warm water flows depending on the season.

The office tower has a total of 16 elevators from thyssenkrupp Elevator: While four TWIN elevator systems were installed in the north tower, there are three of these systems in the smaller south tower. The specialty of TWIN elevators is that two cabins, arranged one above the other, but not connected to each other, move in one shaft. They are each supplemented by a normal individual elevator system and a freight elevator, which also serves as a fire service elevator. There are also five more so-called shuttle elevators in the atrium, which, as express elevators, have a speed of six meters per second (21.6 km/h).

The ECB high-rise and the wholesale market hall are embedded in open spaces that consist of 25 different tree species and include more than 700 trees. The landscape architecture was inspired based on English gardens and reinterpreted.

The ECB headquarters in the evening with the Financial District skyline in the background, photographed from one of the most popular photo locations in Frankfurt.

Schedule

DateDescription
2002Acquisition of the property
2002-2004International urban and structural competition
2004-2005Revision phases
2006-2009Planning phases
October 2007Submission of the building application
November 13 2007Development plan no. 830 comes into force
Spring 2008Early construction work begins
May 6 2008Granting of the building permit
Spring 2010Start of the main construction work
May 2010Laying of the foundation stone
September 2012Topping out ceremony
2013Construction completion
2014Relocation to the new ECB building

Aerial view of the European Central Bank during a drone flight in Frankfurt.

Good To Know

The premises of the ECB is far away from the Frankfurt Financial District, where most of the other banks are based. On the other side of the Main river, only a few hundred meters away, is the Main Plaza highrise. The Light Tower is also within sight.

The ECB also uses the Eurotower and the Japan Center in Frankfurt for its employees.

News

Status March 2020: A low office building of around 60 meters height (197 feet) could be built on the property of the ECB, a spokesman for the City of Frankfurt told the German-speaking newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse. The unique selling point of the current skyscraper should be retained with this height limitation.

Market Twittering November 2019: The ECB is bursting at the seams. According to information from well-informed real estate insiders, the ECB is evaluating the construction of a new high-rise building on its site in Ostend next to the Skytower. We think: If this is the case, it will absolutely be essential that an extension will match the existing twin tower optically. In such a case the choice of Coop Himmelb(l)au would be obviou (who designed the original building complex).

ECB Panorama

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