Messeturm / Frankfurt, Germany/ 1985‑1991
Size: 1,045,180 sq ft / 97,100 m
Height: 63 floors; 823 ft / 251 m
Status: Completed 1991; Renovated 2021
The Messeturm is a study in firsts. Its design, architecturally derived from the great American skyscrapers of the 1920s and 1930s, stands out against the modern skyline of Frankfurt — not just for its form, but for its height. When it was completed in 1991, the Messeturm was the tallest building in Europe at 63 floors.
Building a structure this tall upon a bed of Frankfurt clay required Jahn to work closely with engineers and contractors to devise a first-of-its-kind foundation. Over a three-day period, a team of 240 workers utilized a network of pumps to pour concrete from 90 ready-mix trucks, marking the longest continuous concrete pour in history. At approximately 17,000 cubic meters, the building’s reinforced concrete mat foundation is also among the world’s largest.
Ahead of its 30th anniversary in 2021, the Messeturm’s lobby underwent a complete renovation. The new design, completed through a partnership between Jahn and Matteo Thun & Partners, showcases an approximately 17-meter high glass façade on each of the tower’s four sides, extending outward from the current façade to enlarge the lobby space. This structure is comprised of cold-bent insulating glass units, which are supported by 5-ton stainless steel columns. Capping the façade is an approximately 250 square meter steel-glass roof, with its beams securely fastened to the façade’s vertical steel columns at the joints.
Inside the light-filled lobby, visitors are invited to linger. A new café bar and restaurant offer spaces for indoor and outdoor enjoyment, catering to both employees and visitors. The entrance hall is defined by natural elements such as stone and abundant daylight, creating a seamless blend of interior and exterior spaces. The presence of trees, a plethora of plants, and a towering fountain wall not only brings a touch of nature inside the building but also enlivens the space and purifies the air. Meanwhile, the building’s elevator systems are now ingeniously concealed behind a white-hued LED lighting scheme. Additionally, numerous indirect lighting sources contribute to overall well-being, maintaining a continuously pleasant and inviting atmosphere in the public areas.
The rigorous geometry that governs the tower’s shape begins in plan with a square of approximately 42 meters. Within this square is inscribed a circle that is clad in glass. The circle extends vertically to become a cylinder and is visible at the main lobby and then again at the top of the tower as the granite-clad square recedes. The glass cylinder steps back twice below the top pyramid and is articulated there by rhythmically alternating window recesses. A pyramid rises over the top, stepping three times. The corners of the pyramid are centered on the sides of the tower, where triangular bay windows rise from the apex of the gate to the top.
Its soaring height and ordered composition of warm red granite have made the Messeturm a beloved landmark in Frankfurt.