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Urban development draft, Offices, Housing
District: Completed:

Project description

Reason for planning
In 2001, the Degussa company became a member of the Essen-based Evonik Industries AG and relocated its headquarters to Düsseldorf. In 2005, Deutsche Immobilien Chancen
(DIC) acquired the real estate that had belonged to the Degussa grounds with the overall objective of fundamentally restructuring the complex.

Development district
The zone in question spans the area between Seckbächer Gasse, Neue Mainzer Strasse, Weissfrauenstrasse and Untermainkai. The building housing Frankfurt’s “Komödie” theater, among others, is not part of the development.

Planning objectives
The Degussa complex is one of those offering key development potential for downtown Frankfurt. Situated on the north bank of the River Main alongside one of the prominent routes into the city, the site will play a decisive role in defining the image of the city. The intention is to redevelop most of the grounds and open them up to the public. The key goal behind the planning is to upgrade the area by creating an integrated quarter with an urban feel that combines office, business and residential properties of high architectural appeal which blend perfectly into the existing neighborhood. A 100-meter-high tower will forge a new urban icon, with two additional 60-meter towers planned in the north-east and south-west respectively. Some 108,000 square meters of the gross floor area will be dedicated to apartments.

Project progress
In spring 2007,
DIC tabled a project proposal, which is entitled ‘MainTor’ for public discussion. The urban masterplan drawn up by the architects at KSP was further fine-tuned in the course of close interaction with City representatives. In fall 2009, a design competition was held for the high-rises to be located in the middle and south of the site. The proposal by the architects for the 100m-tall ‘WinX’ tower won the day, while architect Christoph Mäckler was awarded the contract to design the ‘MaintorPanorama’ high-rise in the south of the zone. Following from the masterplan, development plan no. 867 was established to secure approval from the planning authorities. The land was subdivided into plots in the course of 2010. At the end of March 2010 the City Council passed a resolution to enact the development plan, which thus came into effect on May 18, 2010. After the last remaining tenants moved out in late 2010, Museum für Moderne Kunst was given an opportunity to use the vacant premises as a temporary exhibition space for its jubilee shows in summer 2011. The Degussa buildings were demolished between fall 2011 and summer 2012. The new buildings are currently under construction.

More information

The high-rises in the quarter

The WinX high-rise

Rendering of the WinX high-rise, © Deutsche Immobilien Chancen (DIC)

The WinX (Wings) high-rise sets the urban design tone at the center of the MainTor ensemble and is set to stand some 110 meters tall. In the tower, with its two wings and designed by architect Jürgen Engel, there will be about 31,000 of gross surface area spread across 29 stories. The building will have glass and light natural stone facades and boast a striking three-storey lobby. The office premises can be ventilated by opening the windows. Access to the high-rise is via a 26-meter-high portal building on Neue Mainzer Strasse that houses a further 9,400 of space. In all instances, the ground floor will feature hospitality outlets and retailing. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014-5 and to take three years.

The Panorama high-rise

Rendering of the Panorama high-rise, © Deutsche Immobilien Chancen (DIC)

The Panorama high-rise will have a prestigious location on the corner of Neue Mainzer Strasse and Untermainkai – overlooking the river. It will constitute a new highlight on the riverbank and at 64 meters high takes its cue from the neighboring listed Schweizer National building created in 1962 by architects Max Meid and Helmut Romeick: together with it the Panorama, designed by Christoph Mäckler, will form the new gate to the city. The high-rise will have 17 stories, including the plinth and provide some 15,700 square meters of gross surface area. On the north side access to the historical Alte Mainzer Gasse will now be possible again, with a high arcade envisaged. Construction commenced in 2013 and is expected to take two years.

The Porta high-rise

Rendering of the Porta high-rise, © Deutsche Immobilien Chancen (DIC)

The Porta high-rise located in the Northeast on the corner of Weissfrauenstrasse and Seckbächer Gasse constitutes the gateway from the city into the MainTor ensemble and at 70 meters high will house 19 office floors. Located along Weissfrauenstrasse the plinth runs to a height of 22 meters and has seven storeys. It will feature office and conference areas as well as hospitality and retail outlets on the ground floor. There will be an arcade along Weissfrauenstrasse to offer pedestrians a broader sidewalk. The high-rise’s main entrance will be on Seckbächer Gasse. In total, the building has a gross surface area of 24,000 square meters, and, designed by Jürgen Engel, boasts a light natural stone facade. Construction work was completed in 2014.

The other buildings

The Primus high-rise (former Degussa high-rise)

Rendering of the Primus high-rise, © Deutsche Immobilien Chancen (DIC)

The MainTor project started with the former Degussa high-rise direct on Willy Brandt Platz, which has been modernized. The conversion work on the 46-meter-high tower, which has around 6,300 sq.m. of gross surface area, is being handled by the architects at Jürgen Engel. The new ground floor arcade now enhances links into the new quarter. Modernization work completed in 2014  serves to bring the appearance of the high-rise, newly named Primus, into line with the rest of the MainTor projects. The high-rise was sold to a private investor prior to commencement of conversion work and the first tenant will be DIC itself, which is renting 3,300 sq.m. of space.

Patio & Palazzi residential buildings

Rendering of the Patio residential complex, © Deutsche Immobilien Chancen (DIC)

There will be seven residential building in the South and East sections of the MainTor grounds providing a total of 21,000 sq.m. of gross floor area. The 210-odd apartments will in part have a view out over the Main. Work on the Palazzi and the Patio commenced in 2013. Between Seckbächer Gasse and the new central plaza, the eight-storey Patio will be erected to plans by the Jürgen Engel architectural company. On the upper floors there will be some 80 high-end apartments with hospitality outlets on the ground floor. The six residential blocks on Untermainkai and Alte Mainzer Gasse are together called the Palazzi and will include about 130 apartments. Each of these will have room heights of 2.70 meters, a loggia or patio and in part views of the river. The facades will be clad in natural stone. The residential block on Alte Mainzer Gasse was designed by the architects at Braun & Volleth – the four buildings trace the historical line of Alte Mainzer Gasse. The two blocks on Untermainkai to the East of the historical villa were masterminded by Jo. Franzke architects.

Main Palais

Photograph of the Villa Main Palais, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

In Degussa days, this listed villa on Untermainkai served as the venue for festive occasions. After being fully restored in 2011 the villa serves as a meeting point for the business and cultural worlds. It is one of the few surviving Classicist buildings in Frankfurt.

Public space and transportation

Design of public spaces

A concept has been devised for the surfaces of the pathways and squares that takes into account both existing materials used nearby and the investor’s design wishes. The construction work on the buildings meant that the developer had to replace the pathways on site. The surface design of the public areas takes its cue from the City of Frankfurt’s standards in this regard. Brownish red paving has been laid in Neue Mainzer Straße and along the further course of the street, and in Kaiserstraße. In Weissfrauenstraße anthracite-colored paving will be used as is to be found already in Braubachstraße. Both forms of paving will be laid in diagonal lines using stones sized 40 x 40 cm. Inside the quarter, primarily bright paving will be deployed, alternating with narrow black strips. The plan is for darker paving in the form of a ‘carpet’ in the Arcades. On the plaza between Patio and WinX there will be an expanse of water. The deck of Alte Mainzer Gasse will be dark in color.

Transport links and underground car park

For pedestrians and cyclists, the opening of the ensemble by the new construction work creates new and appealing paths and links. In future you will, if coming from the direction of downtown be able to cut diagonally across the MainTor grounds to reach Sachsenhausen via the Untermainbrücke. Vehicles have to date only been able to access the complex centrally via Seckbächer Gasse, which was also the location of the underground car park. In future four underground car parks beneath the main construction areas will have decentral access routes. They are in part interconnected. In total, there will be 695 parking spaces, of which 273 are assigned to the apartments. 50 parking spaces will be available for public use during week days from 6 p.m. and otherwise round-the-clock to provide additional parking spaces for visitors to cultural institutions in the immediate vicinity.