Saab 9000 meets Neckermann. A Frankfurt city story.

The Neckermann head office on Hanauer Landstrasse is hard to miss. It measures 256 meters in length and 56 in width. The imposing work is one of the three original Frankfurt buildings by architect Egon Eiermann. In addition to the Olivetti towers and the complex on Hanauer Landstrasse, Eiermann built the Hochtief administration, which has since fallen victim to the demolition. Neckermann and Olivetti will be spared this fate. Both ensembles are listed buildings.

Neckermann headquarters of Egon Eiermann. Note the open stairwell
Neckermann headquarters of Egon Eiermann. Note the open stairwell

In 1961 the head office was completed after 3 years of construction. The striking features of the building are the external staircases. architect Eiermann put on them to save space inside. Two of them can be found on each side of the building. The striking main entrance was later placed in front of the Eiermann ensemble. You can see it, it's like a disturbing foreign body.

At weddings, more than 3.800 people worked on the approximately 24 hectare site. The retail group with a turnover of DM XNUMX billion had its own sidings, a thermal power station, various parking garages and parking decks.

Neckermann headquarters of Egon Eiermann

The shock in 2012, and a piece of Frankfurt's history came to an end. The company went bankrupt and a Turkish investor took over the property. Parts of it are rented out today, the warehouses use logisticians, and a Bremen company takes care of Korean import vehicles. Large parts of the head office simply age, however, and were temporarily used for refugees. Finding a really sustainable usage concept is difficult, if only because of the monument protection requirements.

I like the Eiermann buildings and on a gray, rainy day I take my time on the site. The clock seems to have stopped on Hanauer Landstrasse. 8 years after his bankruptcy, there is still a lot to be found from the former mail order company. One senses the former importance as an employer for Frankfurt. The striking red lettering can still be seen on several buildings. But the main entrance with the strange canopy that was placed in front of the Eiermann building looks out of time. Not suitable for the structure, strange. From an era when the Germans were still leafing through catalogs.

Once a workplace of 3811 people

It's pretty dreary here. The green of spring struggles and graciously covers the decline. I discover visitor parking spaces, but no longer visitors. The signs carry as an inscription. A sticker over the old lettering. Hastily upset, a whitewash of tradition. You wanted to be modern, internet savvy. Quickly get away from the old catalog and grandma's sofa. Towards the boys on the screen. The renaming did not help in 2006.

It's raining, the Saab rolls on to the employee entrance. 3.811 people are said to have worked exactly here. The head office was once ultra-modern, trendsetting and distinctive. What was indicated on the outside continued on the inside. Josef Neckermann boosted his business with the latest infrastructure, IBM mainframe processed customer data. Dynamic hustle and bustle must have been here once. Today? It is absolutely silent, I am alone here. In the 60s, the head office was surrounded by a spacious campus. Over the years it was built with buildings in the direction of the Hanauer. The facility has retained a bit of green and the feeling of what it might have looked like 60 years ago.

How does the Neckermann headquarters work today? The building is large, but not threatening. It is representative and still light. It's old. The first employees moved in 1960, and the construction work was finished a year later. You can hardly see the 60 years of the building, like many other Eiermann plants. Despite the hard to deny traces of decline, it looks technical and modern.

Neckermann is Frankfurt's city history

The barrier at the entrance no longer exists, the 9000 passes the Neckermann AG siding. Freight trains with goods once arrived here, often from the other German state, which produced cheap but high quality for foreign exchange. Sometimes used political prisoners for this - a black spot in German-German history. The warehouse complex is now used by logistics companies. Parts like the barrack of the former factory outlet are slowly decaying, wasteland and nature alternate.

The last construction phase of the Neckermann complex is the car park and logistics center, which was built in 2001. The large, red N has now been removed and a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn is the tenant. It is opposite the old buildings and still looks modern.

How can the site continue? Neckermann is German industrial and Frankfurt city history. The Eiermann building stands for the time of the economic miracle, it is threatened like other architect buildings. The Eiermann campus in Stuttgart, IBM served as the head office. His future has also been unclear for years. There was hope for a short time when the resurrected car manufacturer Borgward wanted to move into the buildings and renovate them. But that's also history now.

15 thoughts on "Saab 9000 meets Neckermann. A Frankfurt city story."

  • So the Neckermann building doesn't suit my taste, but the Olivetti towers are a completely different league. In my opinion, they would have fit much better as a backdrop for the beautiful 9000. Light, timeless, almost filigree. The old, now torn-off Astra administration pilgrim's gauntlet also went a little in that direction, albeit a little clumsier. The Neckermann external staircase (not the staircase snack) reminded me a little of the Center Georges-Pompidou. In any case, I think it's a shame that in many places, even in the private construction sector, you can almost only see pseudo-Bauhaus prefabricated buildings. Copy and paste, lots of white concrete. But it always strikes me that I find the 9000 in silver simply terrific, I probably would have ordered it in black at the time to annoy me later ... ;-)) This tail with the fabulous bicolor "light band" - there is even a 9 -5II NG not with ...

  • After all:
    At the gatekeeper there were also glass-smoke-blue panes as in SAAB showrooms from the last design level 😉

    Thanks for the varied report, Tom.

  • “Note the open stairwell”

    No, note the composition of the picture! No falling lines. Dynamically and precisely chosen vanishing point. Relations between subject and picture corners. The economical and accentuating correspondence between taillights and the branding on the roof and the complementary green in an otherwise rather monochrome and despite its complexity very tidy and clearly structured picture ...

    Chapeau. It's a really good shot.

  • Quo vadis SAABblog ???
    Congratulations on this surprise article! Simply great!
    “MONUMENTE” by the German Foundation for Monument Protection could not have done it better. Or, maybe the above article is already offered to the conservationists in Bonn ???
    Great station wagon, architecture and SAAB.
    Once again, looking over the famous plate shows how interesting life can / is.
    With this steep template I see no end of the blog for a long time (!!!)!
    Such “travel stories” are still easily possible with vehicles that are at home on long journeys ...
    I will continue to donate ... ;-), December is coming soon.

  • nice article! A look outside the box that is sometimes good for you.
    According to my opinion, the stairs in the top picture in a 7-storey administration building can only be escape staircases that would have been used as a second escape route in the event of a fire.
    LG in the round

  • Hello and thank you very much for the great story ... please more of it!

  • Thank you! I was still able to experience the Olivetti towers inside during the exciting times when people were building good computers in Italy. I feel like you. You are on the list of my future reports with the 9000 or maybe another Saab.

  • Simply a great article. Another reason to make a suggestion to combine the best articles into one book.

  • Thank you Tom for your interesting report about Eiermann and Neckermann.
    It was the spirit of the time to put such huge “blocks” in the landscape.
    Corbusier also did this with his home machines. Even if I am Eiermann as
    Architect very much appreciate, in my opinion the Neckermann building is not one of them
    the best projects. Every time I'm on the freeway at the Olivetti towers
    drive past, my heart opens. What elegance and weightlessness
    and lightness radiating from these towers is still my architecture today
    View unmatched. Just look at the “primitive” and banal skyscrapers in the
    Environment. Thank you for your trip to Frankurt and the great blog.
    By the way: The outer stairs are not “staircases” but single-aisled
    Stairs that open up the outer arcades and probably only serve
    as escape routes. Due to the height of the building, there should be lifts inside
    and open connecting stairs.

  • The 9k doesn't seem as simple as the table?

  • Nice! I really appreciate Eiermann. Also the tables and chairs that are still available for sale.


    What an article! ! !
    And great pictures. Anna is a beauty and Eiermann is no less interesting for his famous table than a 9K…

    Form meets function - automobile meets immobilization - design meets architecture ...

    The blog outdoes itself.


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