Bayer AG, corporate headquarters, Leverkusen

Coordination of the construction documentation; manufacturing of all the conference room cabinets and tables, cabinet units in the conference centre foyer, concierge loge and interpreter cabins

Completion 2001


“The new building is of a definite transparency, in deliberate contrast to the old stone buildings, and symbolises Bayer AG as a company poised for the 21st century. The building comes off naturally, without the impression of industrialist power, without false modesty. It is not a retrospective building, but one that intelligently and consciously applies the possibilities of the present to the future.” That according to architect Helmut Jahn as ground broke on his design for the new Bayer AG corporate headquarters in Leverkusen. What Jahn said about the transparency of the building is meant literally, because he built it at the edge of the Carl-Duisberg park so that it doesn’t even convey its full strength and potential until realising the visual saturation of architecture and park, from both inside and out. The job awarded to Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau was a number of the interior fittings, especially appealing because wood, at one time Hellerau’s sole domain, is only found in a few places; Jahn’s design is more or less exclusively that of a steel/glass building. Deutsche Werkstätten handled the coordination of the construction documentation as well as the manufacturing of all the cabinets and tables for the conference rooms, cabinet units in the conference centre foyer, the doorman’s loge and the interpreter cabins. As a conference room comprises many structural details deserving of attention, there were quite a few technical refinements. The lectern next to the projection screen, for example, furthers the steel/glass theme; infinitely adjustable electronically, it constitutes uncommon project furniture with its own specially-designed reading lamp. An image about to be seen up on the screen is first projected briefly onto a laptop on the lectern so that a speaker can always be mentally prepared for the next picture. All executive conference rooms have stainless steel/glass tables with elaborate media equipment, which needed to be integrated invisibly into these tables as well. The large conference table was additionally designed in a U-shape, yet kept one-sided; i.e. it is only supported on one side. The static issues this introduced were solved by anchoring the legs of the table in wooden plates set flush in the false floor without disturbing any of the equipment situated within. The clock created by the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau designers to echo the size and style of the loudspeakers in the large conference room is remarkable if only for the fact of how fully it’s been incorporated into the overall architectural picture – an aesthetic detail of extraordinary strength. The extent and aptitude of technical solutions and their consistent integration into the open architecture, the search for the very best solution, and that in the local area, in addition to coordinating all the work – all that adds up to a particularly meticulous project management. What makes DWH’s work on this project particularly noteworthy is that all the technical functions integrated into the installations and furnishings are actually never seen. An accomplishment all the more profound in a transparent building of steel and glass.

Text: Rainer Baginski
Photo: Bernadette Grimmenstein