saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Administrative headquarters IBM Deutschland GmbH


Administrative headquarters IBM Deutschland GmbH

In the mid-sixties, the IBM Corporation was planning to build a modern new head office. The formerly separate administration departments were to be relocated and consolidated in a head office on the company's production site in Böblingen. The brief called for economical and functional modern office spaces for a total of 1,700 white-collar employees.

Egon Eiermann developed two different solutions–one for a high-rise, the other for a low-rise building–which he published in a comparative planning study under the title Planungsstudie Verwaltungsgebäude. In view of the "flexibility of the layout" and the lower construction cost, the company opted for the low-rise solution, in which all the necessary departments would be housed in an extended rectangular structure with four stories and two interior courtyards. Eiermann himself voiced his preference for the alternative of a high-rise building, citing the "clarity of the functional solution" and the higher degree of urbanistic integration; the tower was to be built by utilizing a newly developed lifting technique.

In July 1967 the planning requirements changed radically when the IBM management decided to keep the production and development departments in Böblingen after all and to relocate the administration offices to Stuttgart-Vaihingen. The IBM site there was heavily wooded and located like an island between two divided highways in the immediate vicinity of the Karlsruhe-Munich autobahn. The changed circumstances called for new planning requirements, although the economical and functional findings resulting from the study for Böblingen still remained valid.

In more than forty preliminary studies Eiermann considered all kinds of building formats before he finally decided on the typology of a pavilion with an open interior courtyard. A crucial step in the development of the final concept consisted of breaking down the originally planned, lang rectangular structure into a series of separate pavilions with a square plan. The three freestanding buildings were linked by passages like joints and could be spaced easily on the tear-shaped terrain of the site while also allowing for the possible addition of two more pavilions.

The layout of the four and five-story skeleton-frame buildings with their arrangement of open-plan offices along the outsides and individual offices in between the four service cores on the insides follows the plan developed for Böblingen. Contrasting with the office pavilions, the cafeteria building is the same kind of two-story rectilinear structure that had already been included in the planning study.

Egon Eiermann described the design as "favorable in terms of the budget and suitable in terms of the architecture." The new topographical situation prompted the eventual decision for the low-rise development that would blend in harmoniously with both the wooded landscape and the unusual contours of the site. Eiermann had always rejected generalizing concepts, saying that the question "whether high-rise or low-rise buildings are suitable for an administration building depends on too many different factors to be answered once and for all."

In 1983/84, architects Kammerer + Belz, Kucher and Partners designed and built an additional pavilion in keeping with Eiermann's master plan, affirming the success of the future-oriented planning style of Egon Eiermann.

Heidi Fischer

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 207

Project-specific information

Project Administrative headquarters IBM Deutschland GmbH
Persons involved
  • Egon Eiermann (bis 1970) und Architektengemeinschaft Heinz Kuhlmann, Imre Biró, László Biró, Hans-Peter-Wieland (ab 1970), Architektur
  • IBM Deutschland GmbH, Bauherr*in
Project period 1967-1972

Object-specific information

Typology Verwaltungsgebäude, administration buildings

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Stuttgart