What’s up with our architecture?

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People from all over the world are fascinated by Frankfurt. Not just because of the skyscrapers, but also because of them. We think of specific skyscrapers that have shaped and promoted the acceptance of tall buildings in Frankfurt over many decades.

Icons of the urban landscape

Buildings such as MesseTurm, Commerzbank Tower and Westend 1 are distinctively and for everyone recognizably shaping the panorama of Frankfurt today. These buildings have managed to be more than just a skyscraper. They stand sculpturally and unmistakably for the spirit of their time. They were developed by courageous clients and renowned architects. And one or the other tower has even managed to be perceived internationally as an icon.

Aesthetics has fallen by the wayside

Looking at the tall buildings landscape in Frankfurt today, one thing becomes clear: Frankfurt is changing rapidly. No matter whether you look into the Financial District or stroll through the European Quarter. But in many places today we miss what earlier generations of skyscrapers had in store for us when it came to high-rise architecture. Grand Tower is one of the few exceptions, which are optically quite appealing, but unfortunately do not offer any public use.

Building, building, building

Everywhere the cranes are turning, at present about 30 high-rise buildings are under construction. Frankfurt is booming, but Frankfurt is mainly building unimaginative boxes. The trends that are spreading are functionality and simplicity. But you could also simply call them simple: We put up a box, install floor-to-ceiling windows and perhaps let floors protrude. The tower is finished. Are now building owners to blame, architectural competitions or the architects themselves? It’s hard to tell, but everyone is certainly contributing to this trend.

Search for solutions

Before the icons of the Frankfurt skyline were created, the skyline was not very charming. In the 1970s there were not many reasons why one should give one’s heart to Frankfurt’s architecture. Frankfurt was under pressure at the time, something new had to be created. So international architectural firms were commissioned to rethink highrise buildings in our city:

International offices like Foster and Partners, Kohn Pedersen Fox and Helmut Jahn changed the Frankfurt skyline to what it is today: unmistakable. We need more architecture from abroad that sets accents and creates eye-catchers. In any case, German architecture firms cannot do it on their own.

And please stop building just boxes!

An architectural criticism by Michael Wutzke.

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