Poelzig Ensemble - Campus Westend Conversion and redevelopment of the park of the former IG-Farbenhaus for the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University Frankfurt a.M.

Blick auf das Hauptgebäude des Poelzig Emsembles © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

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Entwurfsplan 1997, Prof. Sven-Ingvar Andersson © 1997 Sven-Ingvar Andersson SL+

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Staudenterrassen während der Iris-Blüte, im Hintergrund Iris pallida © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

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Blick über das Wasserbecken zum Casino © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

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"Am Wasser", Skulptur von Fritz Klimsch © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

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Blick über die Staudenterrassen zum Hauptgebäude © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

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Blick auf das Hauptgebäude des Poelzig Emsembles © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

Entwurfsplan 1997, Prof. Sven-Ingvar Andersson © 1997 Sven-Ingvar Andersson SL+

Staudenterrassen während der Iris-Blüte, im Hintergrund Iris pallida © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

Blick über das Wasserbecken zum Casino © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

"Am Wasser", Skulptur von Fritz Klimsch © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

Blick über die Staudenterrassen zum Hauptgebäude © 2002 Ulrich Singer SL+

The IG Farben building and its park were built in 1929/1930 according to plans by Hans Poelzig. For the extensive gardens, Poelzig worked together with the Frankfurt horticultural director Bromme and Karl Foerster. Foerster's young collaborators at the time were Herta Hammerbacher and Herrmann Mattern, whose signature can still be read in the grounds.

From 1995 to 1995, the building was first the headquarters of the American military government and later the headquarters of the 5th US Army. In 1996, the state of Hesse acquired the site for the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. The park was remodeled and renovated according to plans by Copenhagen landscape architect Prof. Sven-Ingvar Andersson and the office of Klahn Singer Partner, Karlsruhe.
The remodeling and renovation of the buildings were planned by the Dissing Wietling ° Planungsring Ressel consortium.
The remodeling was completed in 2001. The site is now part of the Westend Campus of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.

"The site, bordered with dark green paint, passed into the ownership of IG-Farben on 1 October 1929 after the demolition of the municipal lunatic asylum," reads a letter from the company dated April 1928 to the architects Hans Poelzig, Jakob Körfer, Fritz Höger, Paul Bonatz and Prof. Elsässer, requesting a design for a building project of 25-30,000 m2 of usable floor space with cost estimates and prospects for 20,000 marks each.
The building was already completed in 1930 according to Poelzig's plans. For the extensive gardens, Poelzig collaborated with Gartenbaudirektor Bromme, Frankfurt, and Karl Foerster. Foerster's young collaborators at the time were Herta Hammerbacher and Herrmann Mattern, whose signature can still be read in the layout.


As early as 1934, the IG-Farben factory newspaper described the ensemble with great enthusiasm:
"There is a certain kinship with the gigantic office buildings in New York, not only in size, but also in style, except that there the building structure is drawn upwards as a result of the enormous price of land, whereas here it is allowed to extend broadly on relatively cheaper ground. And what squeezes up from the edge of the dust- and heat-filled street canyons lies here in a wonderfully green frame. A walk along the paths of this garden is interesting even for those to whom the gift of empathy for the world of plants is not given, to whom the constructive is closer, for from all angles and paths the view falls back, often in delightful intersections, on the shimmering walls of the house.
Most of all, the connoisseur and friend of trees, shrubs and perennials has here a wide field for observation and for the enrichment of his knowledge."
The inglorious history of IG-Farben ended with the end of the 2nd World War and with it the function of the building as the headquarters of the concern. After an interim use as a camp for displaced persons (mainly former forced laborers and prisoners of war), it was the headquarters of the 5th U.S. Army until 1995.

Refurbishment of building and park

In 1996, the state of Hesse acquired the ensemble, which has been a listed building since 1970. Conversion and renovation of the building were carried out according to plans by Copenhagen architects Dissing Weitling with Planungsring Ressel from Wiesbaden. The landscape architects Prof. Sven-Ingvar Andersson, Copenhagen, and Klahn Singer Partner, Karlsruhe, were responsible for the 14-hectare garden.

The functional layout from the 1920s has its own aesthetic effect in its unusually strict symmetry, which is further emphasized by the free design of the surroundings. The colour and structure of the travertine, which was used very consistently, give the functional building a touch of warmth and thus create a connection to the plants.

The spatial composition of Hans Poelzig's structural design was supplemented by space-creating plantings. These partially replace unrealized - because not needed - building volumes. The park is a necessary complement to the building, whose urban typology is based on the architecture of baroque palaces.

While the garden was initially the setting for the representative buildings, it is now a space for recreation. 4,000 students come and go or linger in the park between lectures and seminars. The garden serves as a foyer. Therefore, sun terraces and plazas were included in the planning.
The focus of the concept for the open spaces is the area between the main building and the casino, whose importance is emphasized by the water basin and the stone work. This area connects the two buildings and also serves as a break yard.
The water basin was designed to operate year-round. At night and on dark winter days, the water surface reflects the lights of the lamps.

The casino plays an important role in the overall complex. Its placement corresponds to the casa nobile of a Palladio villa, which stands out among the farm buildings. Since the casino is the most important meeting place, the surrounding area was redesigned accordingly. Circular tree plantings on both gables to the west and east of the casino create places to stop. Surrounded by grassy areas, they give the impression of tranquillity. The inner gravel area can be used like the garden of an inn. The sunny square at the main entrance looks like the landing board of a beehive. Backsplashes for sitting and resting could not be realized there for cost reasons

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Planning offices

stadt landschaft plus landscape architects GmbH
Karlsruhe

Klahn + Singer + Partner
Ulrich Singer (bis Dezember 2011), Clemens Appel, Klaus Veiel
Prof. Sven-Ingvar Andersson
Kopenhagen

Project period
1997 - 2001

Size
14 ha

Client
Land Hessen, vertreten durch das
Staatsbauamt Frankfurt am Main II
für die Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Address
Fürstenberger Straße
Frankfurt am Main
Deutschland

Show project location on map

Project type
Parks and green spaces
Redevelopment of (historic) open spaces