High-rise Development Plan: What we know and don’t know

Large cities use so-called master plans for better city planning. An urban development master plan is an informal planning tool for exploring development potential in a city or district and outlining perspectives for its future use.

The City of Frankfurt wants to use the 2021 high-rise development plan to express its political opinion on how and where skyscrapers are to be built in the future. This should allow investors and builders to better orient themselves. The Planning Department of the City of Frankfurt is preparing to update the high-rise development plan, which will also name locations where new high-rise towers can be built. In the continuation of the high-rise building plan, the city of Frankfurt reportedly does not want to allow new residential towers.

So far, the city is fcussing to create clusters of high-rise buildings, in each of which several towers over 60 meters in height can arise. Single-standing high-rise buildings are supposed to be the absolute exception. With the skyscraper development plan 2021, the city wants to prevent “wild growth” in urban planning and direct the construction of skyscrapers.



Investor buys former police headquarters in Frankfurt

The former police headquarters at Friedrich Ebert Anlage in Frankfurt have changed hands. The Düsseldorf-based project developer, Gerch Group have bought the property in its prime location with existing buildings for 212.5 million euros. Previous buildings are all due to be demolished and about 800 million euros are being pumped into the new development of the property. The state government and City of Frankfurt fiercely fought over the project. Construction for the new development will begin in 2022, and the whole project is expected to be completed by 2026.

This information was announced by Hesse Finance Minister, Thomas Schäfer (CDU): “Frankfurt can be happy. Something is happening in a prominent place in the city.” he said. In years to come, a modern ensemble of flats, offices and a hotel could be built in the area between the main train station and the trade fair. The Minister of Finance said that a day care centre was also added, as well as a gymnasium for the Falkschule.

Thus, in the opinion of Minister of Finance, Schäfer, the requirements that the city of Frankfurt have set for future use of the site have been fulfilled. According to the minister, the sale proceeds will be reinvested by the state of Hesse into the Frankfurt area, especially in education and housing.

The former state-owned site covers more than 15,000 square meters. An architectural competition will determine which design will actually be chosen for construction here. The building permit allows a mixture of housing, office and hotel usage on the site, where a high-rise building to a maximum height of 145 meters (475 feet) can be built.

The former police headquarters are now dilapidated and have been vacant since 2002. In September 2017, the State of Hessen started the sales process, negotiating with several interested parties. Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD) accused the state (which owned the police headquarters site) of driving up the price of the terrain, similar to a “private speculator”, so that luxury apartments and expensive offices only were created there. The high price of the overall property to the Gerch Group would later cause buying prices for apartments to rise above 10,000 euros per square meter, leading to criticism of local politicians.



Can the urban development in Toronto be a model for Frankfurt?

A visit to Lake Ontario: between citizens’ participation and profit interests

The city of Toronto is the financial centre of Canada, characterised by its high-rise buildings: the CN Tower, with an elevation of 553 meters, is the landmark of Toronto. Here you can feel a little bit like you’re in Midtown Manhattan.

The high-rise buildings housing the biggest banks are close to the financial district. Along the road to Ontario, which directly borders the inner city, you can see many apartment blocks (so-called “condo towers”). Most of these have only been built in recent years. These apartment buildings rise up to around 270 meters.

What triggered this enormous building boom? There are about 8 million inhabitants in Toronto and its outskirts. Toronto is now one of the most populous metropolitan areas in North America. Each year an average of just over 100,000 immigrants arrive to live in the city on Lake Ontario.

In the 1970s, Toronto was keen to allow new houses only up to a maximum height of 13.7 meters in the city centre. Before long, however, planners realised that thousands of immigrants could not all be accommodated in the suburbs. The only way forward was to build upwards. This boom of apartment houses has allowed Toronto to have a dense and lively inner city.

This boom is controlled by urban planning techniques, to prevent buildings being built in the “Wild West” – mäniers. For example, the city has a clear communication on the importance of the participation of the population. The city administration is primarily concerned with where the buildings are built, how much of a shadow they produce, which materials are used and how much they contribute to the enrichment of the public. This process is made very clear: citizens are informed about the new building project via the city maps (see photos) and online (at www.toronot.ca/aic). They are included with the motto “PLANNING A GREAT CITY TOGETHER”.

At present, 140 high-rise buildings are under construction in downtown Toronto. This increasing number of new high-rise buildings, primarily residential dwellings, illustrates what changes have taken place in a megacity such as Toronto. High-rise buildings make it possible for a large number of residents to move directly into the city.

Throughout all of these changes, it is important that the city administration of Toronto inform and involve the citizens, in order to make the planning process clear, to encourage support from citizens and to improve the quality of the planning.

Frankfurt is also experiencing a new trend towards residential buildings, although the apartments are still only reserved for very high-paying clientele. New high-rise buildings are also emerging in the office segment. Unfortunately, attentive observers miss out on the same clarity provided in Toronto. The planning office in Frankfurt needs more transparency and should involve the public at an early stage, for example, on the Internet. It might benefit Frankfurt if there was a motto, as in the Canadian model: “PLANNING A GREAT CITY TOGETHER”.

A contribution by Jürgen Petzold.



City of Frankfurt is checking high-rise façades

The city of Frankfurt am Main is due to check the façades of all high-rise buildings for fire safety, specifically those built before 1983. But first, a spokesman for the Frankfurt Building Department has said it is to be determined which of the 540 high-rise buildings in Frankfurt were built before 1984. It was only afterwards that the city began to ask the operators of the building whether the façades contained combustible material.



Dining in the air – Henninger Turm 2017

The view restaurant in the new Henninger Turm is to open somewhat later than planned. According to operator, Mook Group, the opening was originally planned for the middle of the fourth quarter of 2017.

The opening of the viewing terrace, on the other hand, was accounced to take place earlier: from the end of September 2017, visitors were proposed to see the perfect view of the Frankfurt skyline from the 38th floor.

Status January 2018: The restaurant has still not opened. According to newspaper reports, it is not yet clear when the opening will take place.

Status May 2018: An insider tells the Skyline Atlas that the planned restaurant in the head of the Henninger Turm will not open until late summer 2018 due to “ongoing construction work”. Access will then be possible via a separate entrance area/own elevator.

Status Autumn 2018: The restaurant has been opened.

What are the top reasons when you think about the new restaurant in the Henninger Turm?


Late honour for the AfE tower

In 2014, the AfE tower, a high-rise building of the Goethe University, was blown up by two controlled explosions. Thousands watched as the tower collapsed. Thanks to the confusing elevator system and the concrete architecture, the tower was not popular with many.

Now, three years after the explosion, the AfE tower has been honoured in the science fiction short film, “Rakka”. Director, Neill Blomkamp – ​​who became famous with his social-critical alien thriller ‘District 9’ – captures the fall of the AfE tower (from minute 1:24) in his latest postapokalpytisches Machwerk. In the movie, “Rakka” aliens have subdued mankind in 2020, kept them captive as slaves and fed them to their children.

Here you can see the short film:



New Office for Construction and Real Estate starts

Sylvia Weber and city councillor, Jan Schneider have announced the upcoming reform of the administration during two meetings at the Department of Property Management, and the School Administrators and Municipal Cleaning Staff,

During intensive consultations and preparatory work, it was decided that areas of school development planning, the implementation of phase 0, the definition of space and space standards for schools and day care centres, budgeting and user acceptance would be settled at the end of the construction project in the municipal school. The department has agreed that 92 full-time equivalents – the full-time positions of the current Department of Property Management – will in future be located in the new ABI, and 47 posts will remain in the municipal school. “Securing the operational and planning security of the department in the future is also of great importance, in light of the growing number of pupils,” stated Weber.

The Office for Construction and Real Estate, on the other hand, will, in the future, assume all tasks beyond all lifecycle phases of a building and complete property management. It is thus responsible for the basic analysis, planning, construction, operation and the possible demolition of buildings. In the future, the respective offices and companies will commission the ABI (also the owner) to build or renovate buildings within the framework of a coordinated budget. Another new feature will be one unit within the ABI that will now be responsible for the entire operational phase of building management. In this way, building maintenance, as well as the testing of buildings and any required tenant support can be covered. The ABI is thus the point of contact for all issues relating to property questions for the municipal school, other municipal offices, companies and users.

In this area, most of the employees will be transferred to the Office for Construction and Real Estate by the City Council. However, in principle it is mainly open to the employees interested in other areas of the future office for construction and real estate.

“In the real estate management department of the municipal school, an interest-seeking procedure will be carried out from the end of May to clarify which employees would like to work in the new ABI and who wants to remain in the municipal school,” says Weber. The voluntary nature of the decision is thus guaranteed.

The colleagues in school house administration and cleaning will in future all be part of the new ABI, but neither in their area of ​​responsibility nor in their place of work, nor in their grouping, will anything change: “Together with the Department of Construction and Real Estate, we have also developed a two-stage qualification concept, which enables further development in the area of ​​facility management,” said Councillor Weber. The continuing education as a “state-certified building manager” at the Philipp-Holzmann school will also remain open to all interested parties.

City Councilor Schneider affirms that the issue of qualification is an important issue for the future office for construction and real estate, which is why a qualification concept for all functions within the ABI will soon be drawn up.

Schneider adds: “The combination of the two large offices, the real estate office and the building construction department, as well as the integration of real estate-relevant areas of other offices and businesses, such as the Stadtschulamt, naturally also have different working cultures. We have considered this in the project and therefore planned to begin a joint cultural development process for the new organisation, with the founding of ABI, in which each employee will be involved.” He continues: “I am convinced that we will be able to start on 1st November. We have created very strong foundations for this project with the committed cooperation of many participating offices and staff representations, so that the Office for Construction and Real Estate will be the competent contact for building and real estate for the city of Frankfurt am Main in the future, and so Frankfurt can be built faster and more efficiently. ”

“The schedule is ambitious, but creative.” both departments agree.

“We are approachable for suggestions and questions from the employees and will, in close consultation with the local staff councils and the entire staff council, make the transition as clear and easy as possible for all participants,” said Councillor Weber.



Petra Roth is now an honorary citizen

The former mayor of Frankfurt, Petra Roth (CDU), was awarded the honorary citizenship of the City of Frankfurt on 23 March 2017 by a large majority of the town council. This is the highest award that the City of Frankfurt has to award. Her successor, Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD), put forward Roth for the honour. The vote took place in a non-public session. The document is to be handed over to Petra Roth in a ceremony in the Emperor’s Hall.

The award has been seen by some citizens as a controversial one, as, among other issues, it was during Mrs. Roth’s term of office that the divisive expansion of Frankfurt Airport through the Nordwestbahn (north western runway) took place.

Petra Roth, with this award, stands alongside other honorary citizens, such as Helmut Kohl, Albert Schweitzer, Theodor Heuss, Max Horkheimer and Frances Mitterrand. This award has only previously been granted once to a woman, to Trude Simonsohn.

Born in Bremen, Petra Roth was Lord Mayor over several terms, including 1997-199 and 2002-2005, and from 2009-2011, was also President of the Deutsches Städtetag. During this time, Mrs Roth committed herself to the preservation of trade tax, which each municipality decided independently. In 2013, Mrs. Roth was appointed honorary member of the German town council.

Photo: Petra Roth in 2001 (City of Frankfurt)



‘Talk Walks’ to make city planning developments more accessible

On March 23, 2017, Mike Josef presented a new medium for urban planning. With an audio walk, ‘Talk Walk’, Frankfurt and visitors will be able to find out about urban development topics free of charge during an inner city walk at 15 stations.

“The new audio walk leads through Frankfurt’s inner city to prominent places, where rapid changes and challenges are discussed,” explains Josef. “These are essentially themes that we have already named in the inner city concept and which are characteristic for Frankfurt. The talk walk brings out discussions on topics of building culture and urban development to concrete places. There are several local experts along the route. Thus, the topics are viewed from different angles.”

Frankfurt is very unlike other German cities of a similar size, as it is characterised by persistent population growth and an enormous urban dynamism. This is especially evident in the centre, where the make-up of the inner-city is presented as a result of this growth. The dynamic work ethic here also formulates goals for city repairs, as well as further exciting development of the centre.

Renowned and expert talk partners could help the success of the audio walk to Frankfurt’s city centre, which will be distributed to 15 stations of the inner-city walk. Currently on board are: Planning speaker, Mike Josef, map architect, Martin Hunscher, architects, Jochem Jourdan and Christoph Mäckler, real estate contractor, Rainer Ballwanz, pastor, Andrea Braunberger-Myers Radermacher, as well as Nils Schalk and Jörg Stellmacher-Hein from the city planning office.

The Audiowalk begins at the Opera Square. Along a route of about four and a half kilometers, and 14 further stations. Each listening station is self-contained; the walk can thus be completed in stages, if desired. The ‘Talk Walk’ was designed by walk researcher, Bertram Weisshaar, who has already designed several publicly-run green belt walks for the Frankfurt Environmental Office.

The Talk Walk can be downloaded free of charge from their website and then played on mobile phones or MP3 players: http://www.talk-walks.de. Smartphone users can take advantage of the mobile-optimised features of the website, such as a GPS map and mobile download without having to install the app.

Screenshot: talk-walks.de