|The Brave New World of the European Central Bank.|
"A visitor approaching the building from the banks of the Main River enters a tall atrium made of steel, glass and pale stone surfaces. People shrink to the size of mice within the atrium. In the animation, the camera breezes past hanging gardens and giant steel beams that support the two halves of the building. There are substantial offices with floor-to-ceiling windows. The high point is the large ECB assembly hall for the ECB Council, under a glass dome on the 43rd floor, 180 meters above the ground. It's the kind of space that might accommodate a global government in a science fiction film."
Der Spiegel's description of the virtual tour on the ECB's website
Austerity for ordinary European taxpayers - luxury for the chosen few who will be working in the European Central Bank's new 45 story skyscraper, which according to the bank will "stand as a visible symbol of the ECB’s identity". That is, if an when it ever will be ready.
And the price tag for the taxpayers just keeps on growing:
Estimated costs for the European Central Bank's new headquarters in Frankfurt have more than doubled. As has been happening with so many major projects in Germany, its construction has been plagued by poor planning, oversight and execution -- and endless delays.
It was May 19, 2010. Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB's president at the time, had invited his guests to a dicey part of the city for the groundbreaking ceremony. They gathered in front of the building pit, from which a futuristic tower was to arise: an architecturally thrilling, 45-story skyscraper, a symbol of the power of Europe's shared currency.
Three-and-a-half years later, in the fall of 2013, there is a different reality in Frankfurt's Ostend district. Instead of the original estimated cost of €500 million ($690 million), the entire project will now cost at least €1.15 billion and could even eventually climb to €1.3 billion. The ECB has also had to postpone its move. Originally scheduled for completion in 2011, the building is now not expected to be ready for occupancy until at least the end of 2014.---
The demands of the project's European managers were apparently as sky-high as the new tower. Vienna-based architect Wolf Prix and his firm, Coop Himmelb(l)au, had designed the building as two twisted towers connected by hanging gardens, made almost entirely of glass and steel. The skyscraper looks more like a giant sculpture than an office building.
With a number of euro countries groaning under their debt burdens, provoking angry protests from Greece to Portugal, the aesthetics and features of the ECB tower seem oddly inappropriate. Do the taxpayer-funded central bankers really need a headquarters building that is 30 meters (98 feet) taller and twice as expensive as the twin towers of Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank?
When the monetary watchdogs move into their new home, their offices are likely to be among the most expensive in the euro zone. As the complex will house about 2,000 employees and cost more than €1 billion to build, each workspace will be worth about €600,000, or as much as a very comfortable single-family home. In commercial real estate, €30,000 per desk space is usually considered "upscale."
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