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Governing Council decides on the design for the new ECB premises

13 January 2005

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) reached a decision on the design of the ECB’s new premises in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. After extensive discussions and a careful evaluation, based on the selection criteria, of the strengths and weaknesses of all three prize-winning designs from the international urban planning and architectural design competition, the Governing Council concluded that the revised design concept of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU best meets the functional and technical requirements specified by the ECB, and has features that reflect the ECB’s values and translate them into architectural language. This decision confirms the judgement of the international jury, who awarded first prize to this project

The main element of this design is a distinctive, dynamic ensemble of three buildings: a 184-metre high-rise building of a twisted shape, a “groundscraper” and the Grossmarkthalle. The groundscraper contrasts with the verticality of the towers and interacts with the design of the Grossmarkthalle, providing harmony and respecting the appearance of this unique listed building. In particular, when viewing the Grossmarkthalle from the south of the river Main, the west wing now becomes visible.

The high-rise building consists of two polygonal office towers connected by an atrium. The atrium serves as the communication hub with interconnecting platforms and communal areas. This satisfies two important elements of the competition brief, namely that the new premises should “foster interactive communication” and “promote teamwork”. This design addresses the complex functional requirements extremely well and ensures a high quality of workplaces.

The other design proposals

The second prize-winner, ASP Schweger Assoziierte, revised its initial design concept to enhance the overall proportions of the new building, thus providing a good solution to the complex functional requirements. The sky bridge, connecting three slim high-rises, provided the ECB with a unique image on the city skyline. In addition, new glass connecting bridges were proposed to foster communication. This transparent design also reflected the ECB’s values adequately. The significantly re-planned landscape design created a harmonious environment, while at the same time providing secure surroundings for the ECB and its staff.

The design proposal of the third prize-winner, 54f architekten+ingenieure/T. R. Hamzah & Yeang, was a discrete “cluster” of skyscrapers which integrated well into the skyline, reflecting the ECB’s values in a combination of lightness, transparency and elegance. The concept offered high-quality and flexible workplaces. Furthermore, this proposal emphasised the careful use of resources, as it adopted an environmentally friendly approach. The contoured landscape which interweaved between the buildings and the surrounding area integrated the design harmoniously into the existing urban fabric of Frankfurt’s Ostend.


After an international jury chose the three prize-winning designs for the new ECB premises (see Press Release of 13 February 2004), the ECB’s Governing Council invited the three prize-winners to revise their design proposals to take account of the recommendations and requirements of the jury, the ECB and the City of Frankfurt. The Governing Council felt that there were still some functional and technical deficiencies in the concepts that needed to be remedied in the revision phase (see Press Release of 18 March 2004).

The revised designs were examined by the ECB, in cooperation with its consultants and experts, and by experts from the City of Frankfurt authorities and political representatives. The criteria for this assessment were the same as those used by the jury:

  • overall town-planning, architecture and landscape;
  • compliance with the main features of the functional and spatial programme;
  • feasible energy/environmental concept and compliance with the main features of the ECB’s technical requirements;
  • compliance with the relevant regulations, particularly those in the field of building law and environmental law.

Next steps to be taken

Now that the architect has been chosen, the next step will be an “optimisation” phase in which the design will again be reviewed, in particular to ensure the optimal use of resources and to minimise costs. During this phase, the ECB will work closely with the City of Frankfurt authorities in view of the urban development plan to be adopted.

From 19 January to 20 March 2005, the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt am Main will host an exhibition on the Grossmarkthalle, which will include the design for the new ECB premises.

Further details regarding the international design competition and the design proposals can be found on the ECB’s website at


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