Seat of the European Central Bank
The seat of the European Central Bank houses the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB). It is located in Ostend ("East End"), Frankfurt, Germany. The premises include the former Wholesale Market Hall (Großmarkthalle), a new 185/165 m twin-skyscraper and a new low-rise building to connect the two. It was completed in 2014 and was officially opened on 18 March 2015.
|Seat of the European Central Bank|
Building in 2015
|Alternative names||New ECB Premises, Neubau der Europäischen Zentralbank|
|Construction started||Spring 2010|
|Inaugurated||18 March 2015|
|Cost||~ €1.4 billion|
|Owner||European Central Bank|
|Antenna spire||201 m (659 ft)|
|Roof||185 m (607 ft)|
|Floor area||184,000 m2 (1,980,000 sq ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Engineer||Bollinger + Grohmann|
Ove Arup & Partners
The ECB is required by the Treaties of the European Union to have its seat within the city limits of Frankfurt, the largest financial centre in the Eurozone. The ECB previously resided in the Eurotower and, due to lack of office space there, in three other high-rise buildings (Eurotheum, Japan Center and Neue Mainzer Straße 32–36) in the city centre of Frankfurt.
The newly built main office building consists of two towers that are joined by an atrium with four interchange platforms. The North tower has 45 storeys and a roof height of 185 m (607 ft), whereas the South tower has 43 storeys and a roof height of 165 m (541 ft). With the antenna, the North tower reaches a height of 201 m (659 ft). The new ECB premises furthermore comprises the Grossmarkthalle, a former wholesale market hall built from 1926–1928 and fully renovated for its new purpose.
In 1999, an international architectural competition was launched by the bank to design a new building. It was won by a Vienna-based architectural office called Coop Himmelb(l)au. The building was to be 185 meters tall (201 meters with antenna), accompanied by other secondary buildings on a landscaped site on the site of the former wholesale market (Großmarkthalle) in the eastern part of Frankfurt. The main construction work was planned to commence in October 2008, with completion scheduled for before the end of 2011.
Construction was put on hold in June 2008 as the ECB was unable to find a contractor that would build the Skytower for the allocated budget of €500 million due to the bidding taking place at the peak of the pre-late-2000s recession bubble. A year later with prices having fallen significantly the ECB launched a new tendering process broken up into segments.
It is expected that the building will become an architectural symbol for Europe and is designed to cope with double the number of staff who operate in the Eurotower. The total cost of the project was between 1300 and 1400 million euros. For the total surface of 185 000 square meters, this gives a building cost in excess of 7000 euros per square meter.
Staff began moving into the new building in November 2014, and the building was officially opened on 18 March 2015. The opening was marked by a three-day protest by the anti-capitalist Blockupy movement, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, and other opponents of the European troika, and by violence across Frankfurt on the opening day. Police used water cannons and tear gas against protestors, while demonstrators threw stones at police, firefighters and Frankfurt's trams, and set fire to cars and barricades.
The ECB's new headquarters was reportedly selected as the venue for the demonstration so as to highlight the contradiction between the ECB's lavish spending on its own US$1.4-billion building while forcing cuts and market reforms on countries like Greece and Cyprus. Ulrich Wilken, an organiser, said: “Our protest is against the ECB, as a member of the troika, that, despite the fact that it is not democratically elected, hinders the work of the Greek government. We want the austerity politics to end.” The pan-European protests included members of Greece's radical left governing party Syriza and Spain's left-wing Podemos.
The Seat of the European Central Bank enjoys special legal protections granted by its Headquarters Agreement with the German government. It is illegal to enter the ECB's premises to enforce a court order or execute a search warrant. It is also illegal to confiscate materials on the ECB's premises. The German government has a duty to protect the Central Bank against intruders, including foreign agents and protestors.
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