06 Apr 2024

Skyscrapers in Frankfurt

With 39 buildings over 100m high, 18 buildings over 150m high, and 18 of the top 20 tallest skyscrapers in Germany, Frankfurt has a unique skyline for European terms. Its nickname Mainhattan links its New York looks with the Main river. Wartime destruction and the need for bank office space during Germany’s economic boom in the 1960s and 70s led the Frankfurters to look up for office space solutions. 
Although Frankfurt is mostly known for the skyscrapers that were built in recent decades, the tradition of high buildings in Frankfurt dates back to the 1920s. Respect must be paid to the Kaiserdom cathedral tower, which at 95 metres may be a dwarf now, but was the tallest in town until 1961. 

Top 10 skyscrapers
Although the highest structure in town is the 331m Europaturm television tower in the northern outskirts, the highest skyscraper is Norman Foster’s triangular Commerzbank Zentrale at 259m (300.10m if you count the mast and the little blinking light at the top). It’s still only the 21st highest building in Europe, but a full two metres higher than the previous highest building in Frankfurt, the MesseTurm (Trade Fair tower, 257m). Third in line is the Westend Straße 1 tower near the station (208m), recognizable by the crown around the top of the building, which needs to be heated in winter to prevent killer icicles from forming. 
Two buildings reach exactly 200 metres; the cylindrical Main Tower with its viewing platform, and Tower 185, oddly still named after its original intended height. Next in the ranking are several towers around the 190m mark; the One with its top-floor Skybar, the mixed-use Omniturm which combines offices and flats with balconies in the curvy part of the tower halfway up, and the Trianon, which has an upside-down pyramid on the roof. Frankfurt’s 10th highest tower is the European Central Bank, which combines the historic 1928 Großmarkthalle fruit & veg market hall with two 185 and 165-metre high towers, connected by an atrium. 

Speciality scrapers
Length is not everything, and various other skyscrapers in Frankfurt have an intriguing history, or quirky details. 

At 180 metres, the Grand Tower is Germany’s highest residential building, with over 400 flats sold at around 9000 euros per square metre. The silver Silberturm currently housing Deutsche Bahn offices held the height record for 15 years from 1978, and used to have a top-floor fire water reservoir, also used as a swimming pool, which was later turned into a conference room. The twin towers of the Deutsche-Bank-Hochhaus, nicknamed Soll und Haben or ‘credit and debit’, are often used as the go-to media symbol for the German economy, while the Eurotower, the European Bank’s former HQ, performed the same role for any news related to the euro, often depicted rising up behind the large Euro sculpture in the adjacent park, which was inaugurated at the same time as the euro currency in 2001. The concave Skyper tower is another that combines a modern glass high-rise with a low historical building, a villa dating back to 1915. 
Many Frankfurters have happy childhood memories of the rotating restaurant and the views from the 120m-high Henninger Turm, which looked like a barrel stuck on top of the brutalist 1960s Henninger brewery silo. Demolished in 2013, it has been replaced by the residential Neuer Henninger-Turm, that preserves the silhouette of its predecessor and has a new restaurant on the top floor. Architecturally, the Japan Center may be the most interesting skyscraper in Frankfurt’s banking district, with its characteristic Japanese design using tatami mat measurements, and an overhanging roof that may make it resemble a traditional stone lantern. The most beautiful one however may be the red brick Main Plaza, inspired by the 1920s American Radiator Building in midtown New York. Fans of 1970s architecture should head out to the Niederrad office area to view the two remarkable 57m-high Olivetti towers, each balancing on a single concrete pillar. Finally, the pretty expressionist brick Mousonturm deserves a mention, even though at 33m it doesn’t even reach to the ankles of its big brothers. Built as a soap factory in the 1920s, it now houses a theatre and a restaurant.

Rising to the future
Nine further skyscrapers taller than 100 metres are currently planned or in development in Frankfurt, with The 233-metre high Four tower being completed in 2025, and the Central Business Tower reaching 205m by 2027. In order to move away from office towers, Frankfurt is aiming for more mixed use buildings that can enliven the city centre areas. Problems related to the market and rising building costs have put many plans in danger, including that of the 288-metre Millennium Tower, which would become Europe’s tallest building if financing can be found. 

Points of view
A great and free view of the Frankfurt skyline can be had from the rooftop terrace of the Galeria department store. The viewing platform on the Main Tower and the Skybar of the One building can be visited for more great views. 

Frankfurt’s Skyscraper Top 20
Rank - Name - Height - Year finished
1 Commerzbank Zentrale, 259m, 1997
2 MesseTurm, 257m, 1990
3 Westend Straße 1, 208m, 1993
4 Main Tower, 200m, 1999
4 Tower 185, 200m, 2011
6 One, 191, 2022
7 Omniturm, 190, 2019
8 Trianon, 186m, 1993
9 Europäischen Zentralbank, 185m, 2014
10 Grand Tower, 180m, 2020
11 Opernturm, 170m, 2009
11 Taunusturm, 170m, 2014
13 Silver Tower, 166m, 1978
14 Westend Gate, 159m, 1976
15 Deutsche Bank I, 155m, 1984
15 Deutsche Bank II, 155m, 1984
17 Marienturm, 155m, 2019
18 Skyper, 153, 2004
19 Eurotower, 148m, 1977
20 One Forty West, 145, 2020



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