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Topping-Out Ceremony at the Städel Museum, Shell for Expansion Completed
Topping-Out Ceremony at the Städel Museum. Photo: Martin Oeser.

FRANKFURT.- The Städel Museum celebrated the topping-out ceremony for the expansion wing being built to house the presentation of art after 1945. The shell construction of the 3,000-square-metre underground facility was completed on schedule after a mere fifteen months of construction work. At the end of a process carried out in five stages since August 2010, the final section of the ceiling has been poured, representing a further milestone in the construction work. Altogether about 1,300 cubic metres of concrete and 330 tons of steel have been processed to date. With its striking dome-shaped roof featuring circular skylights, the museum building designed by architects schneider+schumacher of Frankfurt will form a new architectural landmark in the middle of the Städel garden.

Max Hollein, Städel Museum director, comments: “We owe the project’s rapid progress to the good cooperation between all of the participating partners: the architects, the planners of the supporting framework and the engineering, the project supervisors, the numerous construction companies and their employees, and not least of all the museum staff, who are likewise involved in many aspects of the planning.”

The cost of the expansion is assessed at 30 million euros, the renovation of the old building – which is being carried out hand in hand with the erection of the new wing – at a further 10 million or more. The total is a good 40 million euros, of which over 90 percent has already been secured thanks to support from the public sector, businesses, foundations and individuals. The donation campaign under the motto “Frankfurt is building the new Städel. You can join in the effort” was launched in the autumn of 2009. Quite in the spirit of founder Johann Friedrich Städel, it is an appeal to the citizens of Frankfurt and the region and continues the tradition of civil commitment to the Städel Museum. Among the numerous donations small and large hitherto received by the Städel in this context is one made by the Royal Bank of Scotland as well as a private contribution in the amount of 500,000 euros, both shortly before the topping-out ceremony. To quote Max Hollein: “We are highly indebted to all of the supporters of the Städel expansion. It is only through the help provided by every single one of them that we are able to celebrate the topping-out ceremony today, after such a brief construction period.”

“We can be very proud of Frankfurt and its citizens”, Dr. h.c. Petra Roth, mayor of the city of Frankfurt points out. “With the expansion project, the city of Frankfurt once again proves that it regards culture an asset to which it is committed –not only in word, but in deed. The fact that the new Städel is taking on more distinct shape every day is a wonderful symbol of that commitment”, says the mayor.

The construction work has demanded quite a bit of flexibility. For the installation of the geothermal system by which the expansion wing will be heated and air-conditioned, for example, test drillings were made which led a change in the originally planned drilling method: a layer of groundwater beneath the Städel had been found to be under pressure. “Along with the substantial technical difficulty and the complex conservatorial specifications involved, the high expectations being placed on the aesthetic and uniqueness of the new structure constitute a major challenge for the planning process”, explains Prof. Michael Schumacher, one of the partners of the schneider+schumacher architectural firm. With the Städel expansion, a state-of-the-art museum is being realized in Frankfurt from both the technical and the aesthetic point of view. “As has so often been the case in the course of its nearly two-hundred-year history, the Städel is once again showing that it recognizes the signs of the times and – in keeping with its mission – is developing further on a continual basis to the benefit of society”, states Dr. h. c. mult. Nikolaus Schweickart, chairman of the Städel Museum board of directors.

The next step will be to complete the technical installations. Beginning on 1 December 2010 the skylights will be inserted and sealed. Altogether the building will feature 195 such circular openings with diameters ranging from 2.7 metres in the centre to 1.5 metres at the edge.

Major progress is also being made on the renovation of the old building, whose main and garden wings are being altered to conform to the demands of barrier-free access as well as the latest in fire-protection technology – and through which the expansion will be reached. From the main entrance in Schaumainkai, the path will lead to the new wing by way of a central axis. One section will pass beneath Metzler Hall, whose floor has already been removed to permit further excavation and the construction of the stairway along the same axis. The floor will subsequently be reinstalled to make the ceremonial hall available for use once again in its original dimensions.

The expansion being built to accommodate the collection of post-1945 art is scheduled to open in the autumn of 2011. The areas of the collection housed in the main and garden wings will likewise be presented anew at that time. The show “In Chronological Order: Städel Paintings from the Fourteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries” with works from the museum holdings will be on view in the exhibition wing until 26 June 2011.

The Städel Museum | Max Hollein | Frankfurt |

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