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DZ Bank- Frank Gehry

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Project Specifications:


Berlin, Germany


Gehry Partners LLP


Frank Gehry

Built in:



20000 m²


Office Building


The Berlin branch of DZ Bank is one of the most interesting buildings of Frank O. Gehry. Some strict regulations apply to works built in the center of Berlin, which made it impossible to provide a sculptural envelope such as at the museum Guggenheim Bilbao.

The DZ Bank building on Pariser Platz, designed by Frank Gehry, is one of Berlin's new office buildings on the reconstructed Pariser Platz in front of Berlin's landmark, the Brandenburger Tor.

The interior courtyard of the building shows Gehry's trademark: a massive, titanium, morphing form. This being, first and foremost, a bank, the facade - a cascading mixture of sand-coloured stone and swooning glass, graced by massive chrome and glass doors - subtly disguises what lies beyond. In this case a towering, curvaceous fish that houses a central conference space and captures motion and movement in the building.

Urban planning regulations of this location imposed from the beginning a facade organization on the basis of a window rhythm with specific conditions of strict classical composition, forcing the pace of vertical hollows and repetitive sizes, inspired by the traditional city.

Here, Gehry’s contribution is one of maximum subtlety and cunning: Gehry was able to integrate all the energy policies to develop an organic structure, projecting discreet and elegant proportions of a cubic volume of five floors into the representative plaza. A little trick of geometry allows him to keep the shape of the rectangle to the limit at which the human eye perceives it as a square.

The interior spaces are changing the dynamics, organized around an inner courtyard that becomes covered in the conference room of the building. The ‘traditional’ Gehry takes place, then, in the area of the entrance, as a curious solution to the notice of meeting and conference space for the building.


Design Philosophy :

The DZ Bank building is a mixed use property consisting of a commercial element that houses the headquarters of the Berlin Bank and a residential component that includes 39 houses. Among the skylights, the interior rectilinear facade is covered with wood paneling and curved shapes, creating rich interior gathering spaces of movement. This kind of monster inside is an element retrieved by the architect of an earlier draft never built: the lobby in the form of a horse head is in the Lewis House (1989-1995).

The building’s primary conference hall is located within a highly sculptural shell in the center of the glass floor of the atrium. Clad in stainless steel on the exterior and wood on the interior, the conference room is the physical and spiritual heart of the project. Other conference functions are organized under the glass floor, at level -1, around a generous foyer. It can be combined with the Bank’s cafeteria, located under the main glass vault, to create a large space suited for banquets and assemblies.

A second, smaller interior atrium serves the residential component of the project. This atrium allows natural light to enter both sides of each apartment. A reflecting pool at the bottom of the atrium adds a dynamic quality to the light, best seen from the glass elevators that service the residential area. The apartments vary in size, from studios to maisonettes occupying the top two floors.


Material & Façade :

The facades have scales which are independent of one another, so that the proportions of each are in accordance with the immediate urban area in which it is composed.

The Pariser Platz facade, as the Behrenstrasse, is lined with a light brown-colored limestone to match the facade of the Brandenburg Gate. A glass canopy covers the main entrance to the building from the Pariser Platz, a material that is also used in the great curved roof that covers the atrium and in the floor of the same. The steel and wood cover a wide area of the building.

Pariser Platz facade

The facade on the Pariser Platz presents a series of simple cut holes, and very few windows, permitting the building to be woven naturally with this unique urban fabric and forms the scene of the Brandenburg Gate.

Behrenstrasse Facade

The rear facade is totally unique and surprising, liberated from the rigid constraints of the urban plaza neoclassical. A strip of residential apartments, which completes the building, Gehry created a rhythmic, undulating facade of staggered shapes, with several expressionist windows. Both the facades of homes and offices in Düsseldorf are now the last link in a chain of important buildings leading to the sliding forms of the Nationale Nederlanden Building in Prague (1992-1996).


The construction :

The huge skylight glass exposed a transparent structure with highly complex behavior and forces similar to the hull of a boat, contrasting sharply with the sobriety of the body of the building that shows on the Pariser Platz.

The free-form structure of the conference auditorium was the most difficult job of all, completely done in frame-type structure. This incredible and original piece is 29 meters long, 12 meters deep and 10 meters high. A Conch shell, consisting of two equal parts (halves), is the structure which supports the ring of reinforced concrete that holds the complex glass coverages and bridges.

The floor was designed for entry into an elliptical space, to receive the structure shaped like a ship’s hull on the inside. The “shell” is composed of cross members in the form of ribs placed at intervals of 80 cm and a tubular structure of longitudinal beams 10 centimeters in diameter. In addition, unions have been added with steel bars in the shape of a cross in the spaces of the structural grid, to stabilize the structure.


Drawings :

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