Just kidding. BMW Corporate Headquarters (HQ) turned 50 this year, which isn’t really that big of a deal because we all know that 50 is the new 30. Am I right?
Admittedly, I’ve been seeing photos of BMW’s HQ, which is located in Munich, Germany, for years, but I didn’t know much about it until last week when BMW issued a celebratory press release. Apparently there was a big party with keynote speeches by famous architects and performances by celebrity musicians and dance companies. Rather rude if you ask me, to issue a press release that says, “We turned 50, had a big party, and you weren’t invited! But we’re going to let you know about it after the fact.”
Let’s get some hard numbers on what it took to build this architectural icon. BMW says between 1970 and 1972, it took 26 months to complete. They added, “3.5 million working hours on the construction site. 500 builders and 200 architects, engineers, and draftsmen. Over 3,000 façade elements, and employees from twelve nations. Today, colleagues from over 104 countries work side by side there.” And a partridge in a pear tree. (I made that last part up.)
What makes BMW’s HQ unique is its suspended construction. BMW states, “the four cylinders are suspended from a cruciform steel beam construction on the roof.” In the words of Keanu Reeves, “Whoa.” This means that it was built from the top down, as opposed to the bottom up. According to BMW, “the upper floors were first manufactured time-effectively on the ground, then moved upwards hydraulically on the massive ‘tower shaft’ made of reinforced concrete and completed in several segments.” Austrian architect Professor Karl Schwanzer was really thinking outside of the box.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of BMW’s HQ, there’s a special exhibition at the BMW Museum. Per BMW, “the BMW Museum was integral to Karl Schwanzer’s vision for the company’s headquarters. A special exhibition about the ensemble, which has been a listed building since 1999, conveys the history of the headquarters area in the museum’s foyer and presents architectural models from the time of its construction. The exhibition will be on display until October 3, 2022. Admission is free.”—Mike Bevels
[Photos courtesy of BMW.]