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

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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.

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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