• Richard Jones

Commerzbank Tower | World's first ecological high-rise building | Frankfurt

Updated: Jul 20



Facts & Figuresℹ️


Antenna spire: 300.1 m (985 ft)

Type of building: Commercial offices

Floor count: 56

Floor area: 109,200 m2 (1,175,000 sq ft)

Architect: Norman Foster.

Developer: Commerzbank.

Structural engineer: Arup, Krebs und Kiefer.

Main contractor: Hochtief AG.

Owner: Samsung, Korea

Cost: DM 600 million.

Construction dates: 1994-1997


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Architecture🏢

At fifty-three storeys, the Commerzbank is the world’s first ecological office tower and on completion, it was the tallest building in Europe. The project explores the nature of the office environment, developing new ideas for its ecology and working patterns.


Central to this concept is a reliance on natural systems of lighting and ventilation. Every office is daylit and has openable windows, allowing the occupants to control their own environment.


The result is energy consumption levels equivalent to half those of conventional office towers – the offices are now naturally ventilated for 85% of the year.



The plan of the building is triangular, comprising three ‘petals’ − the office floors − and a ‘stem’ formed by a full-height central atrium. Winter gardens spiral up around the atrium to become the visual and social focus for four-storey office clusters.

From the outside, these gardens in the sky give the building a sense of transparency and lightness.




Environmentally, they bring light and fresh air into the central atrium, which acts as a natural ventilation chimney for the inward-facing offices. Depending on each garden’s orientation, planting is from one of three regions: North America, Asia or the Mediterranean.


Frankfurt on the Main: Commerzbank Tower as seen from the Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge)

Source: Foster + Partners

For more information regarding the Sustainability aspect of the design read Norman Foster report:


"Commerzbank: A Sustainable Skyscraper"


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Engineering 🏗


To minimise settlements of the tower it is founded on a 50m piled foundation.


The steel structure – up until then unique in Germany – consists of a perimeter tube made of Vierendeel-trusses. The 400m2 office floor petals are supported on 13cm thick steel-composite slabs.


The service cores are integrated into building edges formed by the structural steel-composite mega-columns.


Eight floors deep, Verendeel trusses provide the structure to span the gardens between the core vertical load members. All of these structural elements wrapped around a central void allow the building’s structure to carry loads like a tube, a very efficient method for forming a structure.

Source: Arup.com


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