Competition phases

The international urban planning and architectural design competition for the new premises of the European Central Bank (ECB) comprised several phases. During a preselection phase, 80 participants were chosen to take part in the first phase. From the concepts submitted, a jury drew up a list of 12 participants, who were invited to further develop their designs in the second phase. The top three designs were then chosen from these 12 designs. After a revision phase, the Governing Council of the ECB confirmed its decision on the winning design.

Preselection phase

The competition notice invited architects from around the globe to apply to the competition by 20 January 2003. This resulted in the submission of some 300 applications, which were then evaluated by a preselection committee on the basis of the criteria laid down in the competition notice. The committee, which consisted of five ECB staff members supported by architects on the international jury, selected 80 architects (70 “established” and 10 “emerging young” architects) to take part in the first phase of the competition.

Related information and downloads

  • European Central Bank launches international architectural competition Press release
  • 80 architects selected for the first phase of the ECB’s architectural competition Press release

First phase

The 80 architects shortlisted during the preselection phase were asked to anonymously submit a design concept for the first phase of the competition by 7 July 2003. The concepts were to include an initial architectural design for the ECB’s new premises and plans for the urban development of the site. A total of 71 design proposals were submitted, which were subsequently evaluated by an international jury.

 

Evaluation criteria

The evaluation of the proposals was based exclusively on the following criteria:

  • overall town planning, architecture and landscape;
  • compliance with the main features of the functional and spatial programme, including growth modules;
  • feasible approach to an energy/environmental concept and compliance with the main features of the ECB’s technical requirements;
  • compliance with the relevant rules, in particular in the field of building law and environmental law.

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Second phase

The evaluation of the proposals submitted during the first phase of the competition resulted in a shortlist of 12 candidates, who were requested to present more detailed architectural design concepts for the second phase.

Evaluation criteria

The evaluation of the proposals was based exclusively on the following criteria:

  1. Overall town planning, architecture and landscape:
    • architectural design and impact of spatial ensemble;
    • integration into urban and landscape context;
    • integration of protected monuments and buildings;
    • function and quality of landscape design;
    • originality, inspiration and innovation of the concept.
  2. Compliance with the main features of the functional and spatial programme, including growth modules:
    • fulfilment of spatial programme;
    • functional organisation;
    • spatial and design qualities;
    • security zoning;
    • internal circulation;
    • external access.
  3. Feasible approach to an energy/environmental concept and compliance with the main features of the ECB’s technical requirements:
    • life-cycle costs (investment costs and operating costs);
    • energy and technical concept;
    • economic feasibility.
  4. Compliance with the relevant rules, in particular in the field of building law and environmental law.

Design proposals

101 Murphy/Jahn, Inc.

Chicago, United States Helmut Jahn

The architectural concept consists of two 35-storey high curved towers that are connected to form a core to the south-east of the Grossmarkthalle. The towers create a vertical counterpoint to the horizontal plane of the Grossmarkthalle. The curved towers open out towards the entrance drive and the river, maximising the views both to and from the towers. The Grossmarkthalle is preserved and remains fully visible from Sonnemannstrasse. The design concept of the second phase differed significantly from the outline concept of the first phase, which consisted of two parallel slabs cantilevered above the Grossmarkthalle to unite the Grossmarkthalle and the river without destroying the autonomy of this historic building.
107 tp bennett

London, United Kingdom Richard Beastall, Christopher Bennie, D. Granville Smith, William Soper

This concept draws on construction-related measures and innovative energy solutions to create an appropriate and comfortable working environment. The landscape is incorporated into the overall design concept: the low-rise buildings are modelled and sloped to create a variety of interesting spaces. The growth modules for possible future expansion are well integrated into this concept in the form of two additional towers of different heights in the south-west. The Grossmarkthalle is well preserved.
120 Barkow Leibinger Architekten

Berlin, Germany Regine Leibinger, Frank Barkow

The concept of a 29-storey slab south of, and parallel to, the Grossmarkthalle with openings or “sky cuts” creates a strong image without overwhelming the Grossmarkthalle. The unique void spaces between the different components of the building allow the large volume to interact with the surrounding neighbourhood: these open areas are designed as gardens symbolising the EU Member States. The Grossmarkthalle is well preserved. Overall the concept seems to be promising in terms of design.
124 Schneider + Schumacher Architekturgesellschaft mbH

Frankfurt am Main, Germany Till Schneider, Michael Schumacher

The new building, a 25-storey cylindrical tower, forms a dialogue with the Grossmarkthalle, which should be preserved in its original state as far as possible. The growth modules for possible future expansion are created by adding new storeys above the initially constructed building. Within the tower itself, interesting garden spaces allow for both high-quality working spaces and social areas. Owing to the compactness of the cylinder, much of the site is not developed and a large area is allotted for green space.
133 Estudio Lamela Arquitectos

Madrid, Spain Carlos Lamela de Vargas

The new building is located between the Grossmarkthalle and Sonnemannstrasse to link the immediate neighbourhood with the ECB’s premises. Although the northern facade of the Grossmarkthalle is shielded from Sonnemannstrasse, the concept respects “history, existing culture and its collective memory”.
140 ASP Schweger Assoziierte

Berlin, Germany

The hovering “sky bridge” contrasts with the Grossmarkthalle without overwhelming this historic building. The Grossmarkthalle is well preserved, though its roof is replaced by a glass construction. This innovative concept creates an exhilarating effect, with the vertical buildings connected through an entrance plaza and the elevated plane. The growth module for possible future expansion is an additional tower.
145 Coop Himmelb(l)au

Vienna, Austria

This concept has an intelligent combination of old and new in a sculptural form. The ensemble is formed from three basic elements: the Grossmarkthalle, a “groundscraper” and polygonal double office towers. In the outline concept of the first phase, the “groundscraper” cantilevered over the river walk and cut through the Grossmarkthalle. Now, in the second phase, it runs parallel to the Grossmarkthalle, leaving the historic building untouched. The Grossmarkthalle serves as the ECB’s main entrance and public area, and is linked to the two office towers by the conference centre in the “groundscraper”. The concept is concise and functional.
152 Frank O. Gehry Associates

Los Angeles, United States Frank O. Gehry

The jury found that the original “village” concept for a small-scale cluster of buildings along the river Main was an original response to the given programme. A transparent roof covers a large part of the site to form a kind of “European umbrella”. Mid-rise buildings create an animated skyline above the roof. The “Grossmarkthalle represents the public facade of the ECB” and is treated as a “found object” framed by water basins and large transparent roofs sloping gently towards the historic building.
157 54f architekten/T. R. Hamzah & Yeang

Darmstadt, Germany/Selangor, Malaysia

The design concept extends the urban axes into the site, using them to create different landscapes and architectural elements. Two different high-rise slabs are placed to the south of the Grossmarkthalle to “enrich the existing shape of the city”. The open space concept is highly developed. High-quality workplaces take account of energy and environmental considerations. The design concept makes good use of the site and the proportions of the new buildings do not overwhelm the Grossmarkthalle. The concept integrates well with the neighbourhood, incorporating many requirements of the functional programme.
159 Morphisis

Santa Monica, United States Thom Mayne

The vibrant connection between the towers and the Grossmarkthalle is a successful way of integrating the whole ensemble into the surroundings. The four sculpturally designed slabs of different heights are linked perpendicularly to the southern side of the Grossmarkthalle, based on a landscaped platform, to create a “campus of integrated pieces”. The plateau and water areas separate the site from the urban surroundings. This concept has an interesting design idea while incorporating many aspects of the functional programme.
163 Enric Miralles Benedetta Tagliabue

Barcelona, Spain Benedetta Tagliabue

The three v-shaped buildings with a single function, located to the south of the Grossmarkthalle, connect at the lower levels. The concept is “the bank as the market place”. The location and direction of the buildings follow the flow of the green belt on the site. The Grossmarkthalle is fully preserved in structure and appearance. The concept forms a comprehensive approach that successfully integrates the landscape, the Grossmarkthalle and the surrounding neighbourhood.
168 KHR arktekter AS Virum

Denmark Peter Leuchsenring

This flat-roofed form is considered to be modest and sophisticated and brings together the new premises and the Grossmarkthalle. The “European envelope” consists of a glass roof and facade that covers the Grossmarkthalle and low-rise office buildings; the new premises contrast with the skyscrapers of Frankfurt’s financial district. The landscape concept allows many connections between external and internal spaces, while opening up towards the river. The concept revolves around a transparency with “no barriers between the inside and outside”.

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Prizewinners

In February 2004 an international jury chose three winning designs from the designs submitted during the second phase of the competition.

The three winning designs

On 13 February 2004 an international jury, which was chaired by the ECB’s Vice-President Lucas Papademos, chose the three winning designs in the international urban planning and architectural design competition for the new ECB premises in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This concluded the second and final phase of the design competition. The prizes were awarded as follows:

1st prize: Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna, Austria

Coop Himmelblau

This concept has an intelligent combination of old and new in a sculptural form. The ensemble is formed from three basic elements: the Grossmarkthalle, a “groundscraper” and polygonal double office towers. In the outline concept of the first phase, the “groundscraper” cantilevered over the river walk and cut through the Grossmarkthalle. Now, in the second phase, it runs parallel to the Grossmarkthalle, leaving the historic building untouched. The Grossmarkthalle serves as the ECB’s main entrance and public area, and is linked to the two office towers by the conference centre in the “groundscraper”. The concept is concise and functional.

2nd prize: ASP Schweger Assoziierte, Berlin, Germany

ASP Schweger Assoziierte

The hovering “sky bridge” contrasts with the Grossmarkthalle without overwhelming this historic building. The Grossmarkthalle is well preserved, though its roof is replaced by a glass construction. This innovative concept creates an exhilarating effect, with the vertical buildings connected through an entrance plaza and the elevated plane. The growth module for possible future expansion is an additional tower.

3rd prize: 54f architekten/T. R. Hamzah & Yeang, Darmstadt, Germany/Selangor, Malaysia

54f architekten

The design concept extends the urban axes into the site, using them to create different landscapes and architectural elements. Two different high-rise slabs are placed to the south of the Grossmarkthalle to “enrich the existing shape of the city”. The open space concept is highly developed. High-quality workplaces take account of energy and environmental considerations. The design concept makes good use of the site and the proportions of the new buildings do not overwhelm the Grossmarkthalle. The concept integrates well with the neighbourhood, incorporating many requirements of the functional programme.

Related information and downloads

Revision phase and final decision

On 18 March 2004 the Governing Council of the ECB decided to invite the three prizewinners of the competition to participate in a revision phase, which would give them the opportunity to review their design proposals and implement the recommendations and requirements of the jury, the ECB and the City of Frankfurt am Main. This phase was therefore conducted in close cooperation with the City of Frankfurt.

On 13 January 2005 the Governing Council reached a decision on the design for the ECB’s new premises. After extensive discussions and a careful evaluation, based on the selection criteria, of the strengths and weaknesses of all three prize-winning designs, the Governing Council concluded that the revised design concept of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU best met the ECB’s functional and technical requirements, and had features that reflected the ECB’s values and translated them into architectural language. This decision confirmed the assessment of the international jury, who had awarded first prize to that design.

Related information

  • ECB chooses participants for the revision phase of the “New ECB Premises” project Press release
  • Governing Council decides on the design for the new ECB premises Press release