Commerzbank Headquarters

Commerzbank Headquarters, Frankfurt - Germany, Foster and Partners
Construction year: 1997
Address: Kaiserstrasse 30 | FRANKFURT | Germany
Latitude/Longitude: 50.1098, 8.67295

At fifty-three storeys, the Commerzbank is the worlds first ecological office tower and the tallest building in Europe. The outcome of a limited international competition, the project explores the nature of the office environment, developing new ideas for its ecology and working patterns. Central to this concept is a reliance on natural systems of lighting and ventilation. Every office in the tower is daylit and has openable windows, allowing occupants to control their own environment, and resulting in energy consumption levels equivalent to half those of conventional office towers.

The plan of the building is triangular, comprising three petals – the office floors – and a stem formed by a full-height central atrium. Pairs of vertical masts enclose services and circulation cores in the corners of the plan and support eight-storey Vierendeel beams, which in turn support clear-span office floors. Four-storey gardens are set at different levels on each side of the tower, forming a spiral of landscaping around the building, and visually establishing a social focus for village-like offices clusters. These gardens play an ecological role, bringing daylight and fresh air into the central atrium, which acts as a natural ventilation chimney for the inward-facing offices. The gardens are also places to relax during refreshment breaks, bringing richness and humanity to the workplace, and from the outside they give the building a sense of transparency and lightness. Depending on their orientation, planting is from one of three regions: North America, Asia or the Mediterranean.

The tower has a distinctive presence on the Frankfurt skyline but is also anchored into the lower-scale city fabric, with restoration and sensitive rebuilding of the perimeter structures reinforcing the original scale of the block. These developments at street level provide shops, car parking, apartments and a banking hall, and forge links between the Commerzbank and the broader community. At the heart of the scheme, a public galleria with restaurants, cafes and spaces for social and cultural events forms a popular new route cutting across the site. Interestingly, on the day the Commerzbank opened, the Financial Times adopted it as the symbol of Frankfurt, just as it features Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower as symbols of London and Paris.

Client: Commerzbank AG
Consultants: Ove Arup & Partners / Krebs & Kiefer, Davis Langdon & Everest, Roger Preston & Partners/ RP&K Sozietat GmbH/ Petterson & Ahrens, Sommerland & Partners, Lichtdesign, Ingenieur Buro Schalm, Jappsen & Stangier, Per Arnoldi, Quickborner Team, Schad & Holzel

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