Martin Elsaesser

The architect behind the Grossmarkthalle

Martin Elsaesser

Martin Elsaesser

© Martin-Elsaesser-Stiftung

The Grossmarkthalle was designed by Martin Elsaesser during his time as Stadtbaudirektor (Director of Town Planning) for the City of Frankfurt am Main. The Grossmarkthalle, built between 1926 and 1928, is probably the most important of his construction works. Not only was it one of the largest building complexes in the city, but also the world’s largest free-spanning reinforced concrete structure at that time. During Ludwig Landmann’s time as mayor, Frankfurt developed into a metropolis. In 1925, he appointed Elsaesser as Stadtbaudirektor for Frankfurt. Elsaesser was responsible for various public buildings, such as the Pestalozzi school in Seckbach, the Römerstadt elementary school, the psychiatric clinic in Niederrad and the indoor swimming pool in Fechenheim. However, no other building was more symbolic of Frankfurt’s evolution than the Grossmarkthalle.

Biography

Academic studies and early career

Martin Elsaesser

Martin Elsaesser

© Martin-Elsaesser-Stiftung

Martin Elsaesser was born in Tübingen in 1884. From 1901 to 1906 he studied architecture at the Technical University of Munich under Friedrich von Thiersch, and at the Technical University of Stuttgart under Theodor Fischer. In 1905 he won the competition for the design of one of the Lutheran churches in Baden-Baden and began his work as an architect. Between 1906 and 1908 he worked as assistant to Theodor Fischer in Munich, and from 1911 to 1913 as assistant to Professor Paul Bonatz at the Technical University of Stuttgart, where he also held a chair in building design, medieval architecture and building types from 1912 to 1920.

Career peak

Großmarkthalle in the 1930s

Großmarkthalle in the 1930s

© Institut für Stadtgeschichte

Between 1920 and 1925 Elsaesser held the post of Principal Director of the School of Arts and Crafts in Cologne, later known as the Kölner Werkschulen (Cologne Crafts Schools). In 1925 he was appointed to the position of Stadtbaudirektor for Frankfurt am Main by Mayor Ludwig Landmann.


National Socialist Germany

He held this position until 1932, before moving to Munich, where he continued his work as an architect, and from 1937 to 1945 he lived in Berlin. In National Socialist Germany, he did not secure any planning commissions, but was able to undertake various projects in Turkey, including the construction of the Sümerbank headquarters in Ankara.

Post-war years

In 1945 he left Berlin and moved back to Stuttgart, in the hope of being commissioned for reconstruction works. However, although Elsaesser published a range of key texts on urban planning, he was still unable to secure any planning commissions. Therefore, in 1948 he took up the temporary cover position as Full Professor of Design at the Technical University of Munich, which he held until he retired in 1955.

Martin Elsaesser died in Stuttgart in 1957.