Criticism on Frankfurt's Skyscraper Master Plan

Will the New High-Rise Development Plan Be a Laughing Stock for Frankfurt?

In the last few weeks, Head of Planning Mike Josef (SPD) has brought the update of the Frankfurt high-rise master plan on its way. Coincidentally, shortly before the Hessian local elections will take place in March 2021. Since the new locations went through the local press a few days ago, there has been noticeably little discussion in the media about the planned locations. The planned high-rise quarters appeared to be carved in stone.

The fact that the update is being launched right now does not just raise questions about timing. The newly introduced high-rise locations at City East and west bank of the Main river are also not conclusive at the moment. In the Ostend district and on the banks of the Main, only high-rises of low heights should or can be built, up to perhaps 100 meters (328 feet) in height. Accordingly, only the already densely built-up Financial District would remain for new skyscraper locations, which is also bordered by Bahnhofsviertel, Westend, and the Old Opera – these areas are a taboo for high-rise developments.

In plain language, this means that the door for higher skyscrapers could be deliberately slammed shut for the next 10 years (as long as a high-rise master plan is usually valid).

As a reminder: The original high-rise master plans came from the Planning Department in the era under Martin Wentz, who also commissioned Jochem Jourdan’s office to draw up the skyscraper framework plans. Especially the foresight of Martin Wentz brought Frankfurt to its present-day urban perception in the city center.

Mike Josef - Head of Planning in Frankfurt - in conversation with SKYLINE ATLAS

Head of Planning Mike Josef of the SPD party (left) in conversation with two editors of SKYLINE ATLAS (October 2020).

However, locations such as southeast of the European District, Stiftstrasse, and the eastern city center are not considered in the new high-rise plan for 2021, although there are hardly any problems there in terms of urban planning. By the way, Florian Reineking (FDP), who was the trigger for this article, was also surprised by this. Frank Somogyi (CDU) sees it similarly, who thinks: “The area between Mainzer Landstrasse, Central Station and Hafenstrasse, which is in urgent need of renovation anyway, would actually be suitable.”

This means: the commissioned planning offices are deprived of the opportunity to actually think creatively about the high-rise development plan for 2021 due to the (too) narrow political stipulations of the high-rise locations in combination with the height limitation. A failure is therefore predictable.

The situation with the high-rise development plan 2021 is developing just like the politically caused problem with the planned High-Rise at the Molenkopf. Here, too, the location and height specifications were to blame that no creative architectural design could arise. The result was an intrusive design that is completely beyond the dimensions of the location.

City politicians are therefore well advised to have other locations for high-rise potential investigated. Nobody can seriously imagine tall skyscrapers next to the ECB, on the banks of the Main river or in established residential areas. If from now on there are mainly low high-rise buildings, Frankfurt will be a laughing stock internationally.

A comment by Michael Wutzke.

The opinion of individual authors does not reflect the opinion of the editorial team.

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