The mystery surrounding the OmniTurm is solved

A high-rise is not arbitrarily built to a certain height. How tall one can construct on a particular lot is decided neither by the architect nor the owner: it is determined in the building plan. Those interested will observe, however, that there is sometimes a discrepancy between the development plan and the actual height of some high-rise buildings. In other words: a high-rise building is sometimes taller than originally planned, such as the OmniTurm (“Omni Tower”). The original development plan for this tower envisioned a maximum standing height of 175 meters. The planning department has since listed a height of 185.4 meters, but the site of the builder claims it is as high as 190 meters. The SKYLINE ATLAS then asked the question: how do these different heights come about and how tall is the OmniTurm now?

By request of the planning office of the City of Frankfurt, Mr. Rosmus has reported back to SKYLINE ATLAS. As the man responsible for planning issues within the Cityring, Mr. Rosmus explains: “The maximum height in a development plan can actually differ from the later height, for example, if technical floors are integrated into the structure. Technology floors are not counted in the height calculation.” This is the case, for example, with the Jumeirah high-rise building, where 3 floors were barely embedded in the architecture of the building.

“The same is true of the OmniTurm,” says Rosmus. The OmniTurm has technical floors planted in the above-ground floors. The height of 185.4 meters still stands out of the architectural competition and is no longer up to date. In the official building application for the OmniTurm, there were 189.9 meters (almost 190 meters), as indicated by the project developer TishmanSpeyer. As a result:

The OmniTurm has a height of 189.9 meters (623 feet).



The city needs the opposite pole – Frankfurt Southbank

Frankfurt has a famous skyline. On an international scale, though, we are rather modest. As anyone who has graced cities such as London, Toronto or Chicago knows, Frankfurt still has much potential to unleash. In the foreign media, this sounds different: Frankfurt would be provincial, boring or a “Canary Wharf in the green”.

So what could a further development look like? Let’s spin the idea of ​​residential towers a bit further. How would it work if we were to make modern high-rise buildings accessible not just to an elite minority, and to build them up close to the city centre? There are plenty of areas where residential towers would make sense, especially where we used to live in Sachsenhausen. The Skyline Atlas has therefore established a proposal to revive the southern main river shore, which we present here with solemnity. We have called it the Frankfurt Southbank concept.

Only one thing is missing: courageous project developers and the right architects for tomorrow’s Mainhattan!

Residential towers at the Main river shore in Sachsenhausen. I find that...


Morgan Stanley apparently rents space in Frankfurt’s OmniTurm

Brexit is beginning to throw more and more concrete shadows ahead. This could become the first rental in Frankfurt, clearly partly due to Brexit: according to media reports, Morgan Stanley is to occupy several floors in the high-rise project OmniTurm. So far, it is unclear where Morgan Stanley would go if the planned UK exit from the EU would force a withdrawal of all staff from London.

Apparently, Morgan Stanley has now made a decision for concrete property in Frankfurt. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the US investment bank has rented 8,000 square meters of office space in the OmniTurm skyscraper, which is currently being built. These 8,000 square meters correspond to five or six of the 45 floors in the OmniTurm and thus almost a fifth of its nearly 44,000 square meters of office space.

The New York project developer Tishman Speyer, who has roots in Frankfurt, is currently building the mixed residential and office tower in the banking district on Großen Gallusstraße. Completion is due for the end of 2018.

Morgan Stanley currently resides in an office building on Junghofstrasse. Whether this location is later abandoned is as yet unclear.



Someone from Frankfurt is visiting London, skyscrapers and Brexit

The Skyline Atlas is dedicated to the search for bureaus and urban development. I made an on-site visit to London with an employee of J.P. Morgan:

It is a Saturday morning. I am flying British Airways from Frankfurt to London at 7.15. After more than an hour flight I arrived: I do not land in Heathrow this time, but in the middle of the city, at City Airport. It is only 7.25 am because of the new time zone.

I do not have any luggage, so I walk out of the terminal, get onto the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and another 10 minutes later I am in the Docklands at Canary Wharf, one of the development areas here in London. My gaze sweeps over the many well-known towers: I can see the One Canada Square tower with its pyramid shape, as well as high-rise buildings with the logos of HSBC, Citi, J.P. Morgan and Barclays. So far so good.

Then I go to visit Paul. Paul is 35 years old, has lived in London for 7 years and works for investment bank, J.P. Morgan in Canary Wharf. He moved here a few months ago  from an area 15 minutes away. I stand in front of his house and look up. There are 25 floors and it looks all new. I type his apartment number into the keypad. The Doorman greets me kindly and I take the elevator to one of the top floors.

Paul opens the door with a warm smile and we hug: we’ve known each other for more than 10 years, when he was not even in London. I enter his designer apartment and look around. The place is full of Ikea – it works here as much as from a catalog and everything is brand new. I walk to the window front and look outside.

Before me lies Canary Wharf – he has the perfect overview from here. I am accustomed to high-rise buildings in Frankfurt and have always thought that it was doing quite well in Europe. Now I realise how massive the buildings in Canary Wharf actually are: most of the office buildings have at least twice or even three-fold the depth of high-rise buildings in Germany. Here in the UK there are laxer working regulations: the depth of high buildings does not force a narrow cubature. Therefore, the buildings, which are close to each other, are not only impressive but somewhat threatening at the same time. An impression which should be strengthened later.

Canary Wharf Bürogebiet Wolkenkratzer Brexit
Wolkenkratzer Krähne Bauen London
Docklands Luxusapartments Bauen

Paul tells me he is now the owner of his apartment. Renting would be outrageously expensive: an apartment of this size would be around £3,000 of net rent per month, plus a service fee of £200 for the porter and gym. Then I look around the area and I notice one thing in particular: cranes. Everywhere, there are cranes. On the horizon, behind the highway, across the road, in every direction. London is booming, there is no doubt about that.

Paul explains it to me. “What you see are residential towers going up everywhere. This is a new trend here in just the last few years.” Paul tells me that not even 500 meters away are eight residential buildings. All have at least 50 floors, some even scratch the 70th. “This is nothing.” he says to me and I begin to realise that London is very different from other cities.

After some small talk we get on our way. Not ten minutes later we are in the middle of Canary Wharf, the established office area. From here, the city of London is around half a tube stop away. Between the concrete monsters (the building masses cannot be called densely close here) people disappear and look like tiny ants. I feel queasy and wonder why so many people work in this gloominess. We turn the corner and stand in front of the EMA building, which I did not know about until a few months ago; it has only became known to most people because of all the press since Brexit. The EMA (European Medical Agency) is one of the European Union agencies, which, together with the EBA (European Banking Authority), will soon be leaving Canary Wharf and heading towards the mainland. My eyes glide to the right and suddenly I see only construction sites. Here a skyscraper, there a high-rise, here is simply built: “Again, all these skyscrapers will contain apartments.” I only think, “These towers are loosely 150 meters high, if not higher”. I’m taking photos, and I do not know what to shoot first. I start to count, but after some time I realise that it is almost impossible. There must be dozens of residential buildings that have either just been completed or are being built, just at this small location next to Canary Wharf.

“There is a lot of money in the market. Most of the apartments are sold to foreign investors“ says Paul. Not all apartments are occupied. Perhaps this is just a coincidence, or there are no tenants. Be that as it may, the building boom does not stop here. At least for the moment.

Canary Wharf Expansion Baustelle

London is experiencing a construction boom at the moment. More than 150 high-rise buildings are under construction in the entire urban area. I want to know from Paul what he thinks of Brexit. Paul is a native Pole and his facial expression reveals everything: “I cannot believe it. Nobody here does. We are hoping that this is a big mistake and it can be reverted.” Paul explains he is very satisfied with his job in the American bank. He would be reluctant to leave. If J.P. Morgan would recommend him to another city, of course, he would consider it. Some of his colleagues from Europe have already said goodbye.

We continue through the Docklands and land in the chic, newly-opened Novotel Tower. We head to the 38th floor and the elevator doors open. The humming of decent Housemusik welcomes us and we enter the viewset with lounge character. Hipster, top-earners and tourists mix here. This does not feel like the xth bar, but here the stay is celebrated. We enter the roomy glass façades and look over the city. Cranes. Everywhere, cranes for new high-rise buildings. I take more photos. We want to sit down, but no table is free: “Sorry, all the tables are reserved.” Funny, because it is Saturday afternoon, just after 4 pm. We see a staircase, and stroll up it. Now the music sounds more electronic, but is still discreet. This is the well-designed restaurant area and here you feel immediately welcomed. A couple leave and we grab a table at the window.

In the distance you can see the city, recognisable by its landmark buildings like the Shard or the Gherkin. Only now is the dime with me. London is not just a big city like Berlin or Madrid: London is the melting pot at present, a “place to be”. But the whole area of construction also has its shadows: I miss trees and nature in the cityscape of London, and I do not mean isolated trees here and there, but parks which are close to the centre, like in German cities. Then I think back to my hometown of Frankfurt and at that moment I am really looking forward to being back home soon. Our cities have a different quality of life, but are far more manageable.



New City District for Frankfurt Planned in the Northwest

Frankfurt is finally deciding to expand in order to allow for further growth of inhabitants, with a new city district now revealed. Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD) presented the proposal of the Roman coalition of CDU, SPD and Greens for the location of the new district. In the west of the Frankfurt city area, the new district could be built on a 550 hectare area on both sides of the A5 motorway. The area would be adjacent to the suburbs of Niederursel and Praunheim and end at the city boundaries of Eschborn and Steinbach.

Of this some 190 hectares of building land, according to the city of Frankfurt, between 8.550 and 11.400 new apartments can be created. Further studies on the construction site provision are to follow, announced planning director, Mike Josef. This is also to keep land prices at the current level to prevent speculation.

In the meantime, numerous reservations have been voiced, as is often the case with such projects in Germany. In particular, the FDP in Steinbach reacted negatively to the plans. The politicians in Steinbach see no chance there, but want to preserve old areas. It does not recognise that cities are developing further: villages will become settlements, villages will become municipalities, municipalities will become cities and cities will become metropolises. In this sense, a dense, lively district with a potential to stay long-term would have to be created in Frankfurt West. Please do not just row houses and a sleeping town – there are already enough in the surrounding area!

A further development of places was met and applies to all municipalities. Steinbach cannot escape this development in terms of Frankfurt’s new district. Especially in metropolitan areas, urban and community boundaries become increasingly irrelevant because people experience the region as a whole: you live in Steinbach, go to the cinema in Eschborn, visit festivals in Frankfurt or wander through the Odenwald. Steinbach is just like Frankfurt Rhine-Main, as Eschborn belongs to Dreieich. Without Frankfurt, Steinbach would be nothing. Without Offenbach, Frankfurt would be worse. This is what people really feel!

Administrative boundaries are a relic of the last century and have less and less to do with our networked reality and Nbsp; we should all be happy when progress and development enriches our lives. However, the development of the Frankfurt region should not only take place on a selective basis in the Frankfurt West, but also in other locations. If one travels with the S1 from Offenbach to Frankfurt, for example, one actually goes past vegetable fields (!!!!), not near the ECB. One wonders, why is it not possible to create housing, workplaces or at least park and play facilities, which can then also be used by the growing population. We can grow vegetables outside!

Phorio: The cities of Eschborn, Steinbach and Frankfurt.



Mike Josef wants to restrict high-rise buildings

The Frankfurt-based planning representative, Mike Josef (SPD) intends to allow new high-rise developments in Frankfurt only in clearly defined areas. As is apparent from various press publications in the last few days, “speculation” is to be counteracted. The new high-rise plan, which is to be presented next year, is intended to cement appropriate development requirements. The planning company would like to end the current practice of the city of Frankfurt (also in exceptional cases) to approve planned high-rise locations . Experts from the real estate consider this decision to be incorrect because it conflicts with established planning practices. Modern high-rise apartments are only to be financed by high-earning workers, and these sites would not be in competition with favourable residential areas.

Since the beginning of his term, Mike Josef has been able to look back on insignificant developments relevant to urban policy. Instead of opting for the expulsion of expansions, the aim is to make flickering decisions, only to be recompressed, thus wasting valuable time in expanding the city. The decision for the restriction of high-rise buildings distracts from the actual challenges of urban planning tasks. Mike Josef would do better to position for expansion so that housing can become affordable. The city of Frankfurt is lucky that the former planning officer, Dr. Martin Wentz, with foresight, launched numerous large-scale urban projects that still benefit the city. Mr. Wentz has left great urban planning footprints, of which none of his successors in office has so far only been able to follow.

A restriction of high-rise buildings will not lead to the relief of the middle value in housing, but most likely again only a piece of the puzzle, which promotes a scarcity of surfaces. Voters will not reward this policy in times of increasingly expensive housing, few kindergartens, missing schools, poor public transport facilities and expensive parking spaces. The city of Frankfurt must finally act strategically!

Photo: The ECB’s high-rise building was built at a location that was not included in a high-rise development plan and had a lasting impact on the overall development of the east of Frankfurt.

Phorio: All the high-rise buildings in Frankfurt am Main

Should the city of Frankfurt provide binding high-rise locations?


City of Frankfurt is putting pressure on Hesse at the former police department

Discussion surrounding the former police department at the heart of the republic, located between the fair and the main station, is slowly turning tragic: the old venerable building is empty and forfeited. Since the departure of the police, several attempts have failed to renew the site. The city of Frankfurt am Main has the right to plan but the property belongs to the country. The state of Hesse has so far established a halt with the construction of the subway tunnel that will run underground.

It's pretty much about money

The area stands at 80 million euros in the books of Hessian Finance Minister Thomas Schäfer (CDU). This sum is due to the fact that an office building with a height of up to 145 meters is able to be built at this location, according to the plan of the Hochhausfrahmenplan. However, office buildings are currently not particularly popular in Frankfurt compared to the booming housing market. It is therefore questionable whether the amount raised by the state of Hesse would ever be paid by an investor if it were to be assumed that only a single use of the land would arise: “The country has speculated,” says Ulli Baier (Greens). The Minister of Finance had to make a valuation adjustment, but it was difficult.

The city loses patience

In the plenary session of the city parliament, a participant said that the long delay had been superfluous and the line must now be pulled. On the request of the black-red-green coalition, it was decided to revise the development plan. The aim is to allow more residential construction at this location. At the same time, however, this would mean that less or no citizenship-holder provided it. It is therefore unclear how this will change the values ​​of the state of Hesse. It is also open as to whether a 145-meter high-rise building is even to be allowed. Mike Josef, who is the planning director, recently expressed his opinion that he could imagine several smaller high-rise buildings together in a group. Josef does not only imagine a mixture of offices and apartments on the premises, but also a gym for the neighboring Falkschule, and cultural facilities, a hotel or a medical centre are also conceivable. According to the currently valid development plan, buildings with a total area of ​​around 100,000 square meters are possible.

The goal is not to confront the state of Hesse. Rather, the state of Hesse should finally make a decision so that the entire area can be built up rapidly.



Skyscrapers: Doubtful Feelings

Between Fascination and Rejection

Tall buildings are, to a large extent, stagings and presentations of economic power. Each new design serves as an eye-catcher to exhibit a visualisation of the client’s own initiative and risk profile.

High-rise buildings have always been impressive, but they’ve also attracted criticism, far more so than other types of modern architecture in their 120-year history. One person considers a tall building a triumphant symbol, while another associates it with an imposing nature.

Experts have warned against the fact that skyscrapers can have a depressing effect on people. They often produce feelings of insignificance and anonymity.

Supporters view skyscrapers as a symbol of a city, as well as prestige. The form and function of these buildings can therefore always be read in different ways.

Architecture is more than the physical realisation of buildings. It also has place in cultural reality, and provides a projection surface for interpretations, views and emotional reactions. However, the buildings must work practically, primarily, and only carry a clear message in the second instance.

City environment often disorganized

If high-rise buildings are scattered over the city, the urban space often becomes disorganized. If, however, a city ensures that high-rise buildings are rather combined in a closed system, a new city with a new quality and a public impact will be created.

As an often neglected criterion of the assessment of high-rise buildings, the map, which was often neglected in the past, must be cited. Today, this has changed in the sense that municipal and state authorities are trying to influence the logistics of the distribution of the heights of inner city soil. But here, too, the main attention is usually limited to the individual building.

Previously, individual corporations usually built high-rise buildings for themselves. Today this is different. In the high-rise buildings, an extremely high share of the floor space is leased, usually banks, insurance companies, consulting firms and more and more law firms. That is why the outside must also be right. Architecture has become an important part of successful rental. This development takes place for a lasting embellishment of the city silhouette. The critics are of course a thorn in the eye. But they can not prevent this with their attitude towards high-rise buildings.



Architecture vs Investors?

Real estate investors see buildings mainly as investments that must yield profits. The fact that investment in the construction sector is so very profitable is not a matter of course.

To do this, construction on the market has to meet demand, both in terms of its quality and price. For investors, therefore, capital is merely a means of production which, like a machine, must function and produce what it needs to: namely, yield.

The business is very risky, because the chances of making a good profit are great only if you are willing to risk a lot.

In order to be successful, investors need to get everything they need out of their projects. Risk management plays a major role in this process and provides the decisive competitive advantage compared to traditional investors. For the builders, risks and profitability already begin with the acquisition of a plot of land. If the business is to be interesting, the value of the soil must rise above the expected normal.

As far as construction costs are concerned, the profits are basically the difference between what investors are willing to pay for the services they claim, and what they achieve on the basis of the usual market prices themselves for the objects they produce.

The ability to make this difference and to make it as large as possible is one reason for the profitability of its operation, and a further advantage compared to construction production, such as the public sector. It also plays an important role in the allocation of planning contracts to architects and the remuneration of their work. In comparison, the architectural quality of a design is no more than one of many factors of the second order. In fact, the lucrative nature of a project depends only a limited extent on the efficiency of the groundwork and the economy of the construction. What can be earned by clever financing, scheduling and marketing is still much more than what can be achieved by a great deal of planning effort. In this respect too, the architectural form plays only a limited role in yield building. Their weight grows only where they have a positive effect on the long-term placement of the buildings.