With little fanfare, Frankfurt’s business district has filled up a bit. The European Central Bank (ECB) has started to use the Eurotower, its original headquarters, to house staff from its banking supervisory arm.
The Eurotower re-opened in March, with the relocation completed on March 28th, ensuring the ECB made good on plans first announced back in November 2013.
In contrast with the central bank’s move into its shiny, new headquarters in the eastern side of the city a year ago, there is no re-opening ceremony planned for the Eurotower.
Given the violent protests when the ECB opened its new headquarters last March, playing down the re-opening of its old home makes some sense, though the ECB said last year’s protests played “no role whatsoever” in its decision not to publicize the re-opening of the former headquarters.
The completion of the renovation follows last year’s refurbishing of the Euro symbol sculpture outside Eurotower after its owners launched a fund-raising effort to spruce up the 46-foot-tall icon of the common currency.
The ECB said it couldn’t provide figures for the cost of the renovation of Eurotower which has the capacity for just over 1,600 workplaces. The revamped building has better wheelchair access, a redesigned lobby and full Wi-Fi coverage.
The board of the ECB’s banking supervisory unit, chaired by Frenchwoman Daniele Nouy, plans to meet in the same room that the ECB’s rate-setting Governing Council once inhabited.
Architect Richard Heil designed the building which was completed in 1977. It was first built for the Bank fuer Gemeinwirtschaft, a house bank for German labor unions which was absorbed into the Swedish bank SEB in 2000. The building was renovated in 1994 and became the home of the predecessor organization to the ECB, the European Monetary Institute. It’s now owned by IVG Institutional Funds GmbH.
When the building first opened, it had a large shopping center in its lower floors with a direct link to a subway station. Maybe the ECB should consider reviving that as a way to get people to spend money the central bank is so rapidly printing.