Bockenheimer Warte, KfW


KfW Campus in Frankfurt

KfW moved into its new place of business on Palmengartenstrasse on 18 November 1968. Celebrate with us 50 years of local history at the Bockenheimer Warte site. A historical overview of how today's Campus for over 4,500 employees came to be.

KfW in Gutleutstraße 40
KfW’s first registered office

Getting down to work: KfW moved into its first offices in Gutleutstrasse 40 back in 1948.

Little capital, a handful of employees and sparsely furnished offices: KfW's business operations kicked off to a modest start 70 years ago at Gutleutstrasse 40 in Frankfurt am Main. At the end of 1948, the primary focus was assuming responsibility for the reconstruction of war-ravaged Germany by providing long-term loans. This Herculean task gave rise to more and more new activities. The constant growth of capital and personnel and the resulting shortage of space are also a recurring theme in the history of KfW's business locations. Time and again, their buildings reached the bursting point, and stopgap measures had to be undertaken.

KfW seemed far away from this at the end of 1952 when it moved into the imposing Wilhelminian palace at Lindenstrasse 27. Completely renovated, with 100 rooms and situated in a park-like garden, it would have been nice to stay there. But ten years and several new buildings and annexes in the vicinity later, business workflows were considerably disrupted as employees worked in five different buildings. The possibilities for expansion had been exhausted and a new site was needed. There was room for a new site at the edge of the “Palmengarten” horticultural park.

E-book cover

You can download the e-book "Das Tor zur Stadt" (in German, for mobile devices only) here for free. Due to the big data volumes, the download may take some minutes. At the bottom of the page you can also find a PDF online version of the book.

E-book download

After four years of construction, the move to the new headquarters was completed 50 years ago on 18 November 1968 – twenty years after the promulgation of the KfW Law. After many years, the 436 employees were finally back together in a building with good working conditions. The new administration building with its 350 offices, meeting and conference rooms was the Bank's sole location for almost ten years. Additional land acquisitions provided space for building extensions early on.

And the promotional bank urgently needed this space; after just ten years, the new building was no longer big enough. Rental properties helped in emergencies, and KfW was once again physically fragmented. But space had become tight in the Westend district of Frankfurt, students and action groups demonstrated against new office buildings. The people in charge toyed with the idea of taking over the premises of the German Library, which was willing to relocate, but this initially proved unsuccessful, and for the first time, there was talk of moving to outside of the city. However, this idea was rejected for business policy reasons. Focus shifted to the neighbouring site south of Bockenheimer Landstrasse owned by the Astra-Grundstücksgesellschaft real estate company. At the beginning of the 1970s, this entire site was squatted and became the cause of street battles after evacuation and demolition.

Read more under the gallery.

Fortunately for the urban landscape and KfW, the plans for a high-rise building that had already been approved were thwarted: in 1983 KfW took over the empty lot where it built the Nord- and Südarkade (North and South Arcades) until 1987. Situated on both sides of Bockenheimer Landstrasse, the arcades were seen as a "horizontal hi-rise" and the "gateway to the Westend" or "gateway to the city". However, the belief that the space problem had been solved for the long term proved deceptive. German reunification presented KfW with new tasks and new space problems. It tried to respond by purchasing the office buildings at Bockenheimer Landstrasse 104 and 109, inadequate measures in view of the rapid growth in the number of employees.

By the turn of the millennium, the number of internal and external employees at Frankfurt had almost doubled compared to 1987, and the maximum capacity of the seven buildings had been reached. "Arcadia" needed to expand: in 2002 KfW opened the Ostarkade (East Arcade) next to the Palmengarten and in 2010, the Westarkade (West Arcade) on the site of the former German Library.

Since 2010, the West-, Nord- and Ostarkade (West, North and East Arcades) have formed a self-contained block along Zeppelinallee, Bockenheimer Landstrasse and Palmengartenstrasse, known as the KfW Campus. With access to the Nordarkade to the south and the main entrance to the east, the main building, built in 1968, is integrated into this self-contained campus. Green spaces between the buildings create a relaxing ambience in the complex as a whole and blend in harmoniously with the Palmengarten. To the south of Bockenheimer Landstrasse, the campus is completed by the Südarkade (South Arcade) and the Senckenberg complex, inaugurated in 2011. The compact infrastructure facilitates cooperation and shortens communication channels.

After Bockenheimer Landstrasse 104 (BO104) was no longer modern in terms of energy, technology and function, KfW demolished the building in 2013. The long-term lease of the neighbouring Bockenheimer Landstrasse 98-100 offered a substitute replacement. Together with Bockenheimer Landstrasse 102 (Villa 102), acquired in 2012, the new building BO104, which the company moved into in September 2016, formed the domestic campus. This is the first time that domestic business has been consolidated at one location.

Villa 102, which was reopened after being restored as a historical monument, serves as a dialogue and event centre and is part of the domestic campus, particularly with its training facilities. The expansion of the KfW Campus for its more than 4,500 employees is thus now expected to be completed. It blends homogeneously into the established office structure of the surrounding area and meets high standards of quality architecture. The buildings are situated in a prominent location and have a formative influence on the urban landscape.

Online version
E-book cover

If you prefer not to use an e-book reader, you can peruse the book ”Das Tor zur Stadt“ online here (in German only).

To German edition

KfW's programmes promote a variety of measures for resource conservation, energy efficiency and environmental protection. Starting with the construction of the Ostarkade at the latest, it therefore adopted technical environmental concepts, taking into account the latest findings and achieving a primary energy requirement well below the legal requirements for office buildings. The revitalisation of the aging "old buildings" – the main building as well as the Nord- and Südarkade – resulted, among other things, in a greatly improved ecological footprint. KfW thus set new standards in energy efficiency for office buildings, winning several awards for its efforts.

Published on KfW Stories: Monday, 17 September 2018