Celebrating 20 years of BuroHappold in Berlin
Our Berlin office is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but BuroHappold Engineering’s connection to Germany predates the company’s founding almost forty years ago. In acknowledgement of his passion for Germany the company’s founder Ted Happold chose Buro from the original German for office “Büro” as part of the company’s name.
In the 1970s Ted worked closely with renowned architects Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod on projects such as the Mannheim Multihalle. BuroHappold also developed relationships with young, up and coming local architects like Christoph Ingenhoven. Together, they worked on the RWE Tower in Essen in the early 1990s, leading to the first permanent German office in Dusseldorf. After completion, the decision was taken to open an office in Berlin. This office, established in 1995, now has over 60 employees and growing. For BuroHappold, the decision to open an office in Berlin was an easy one. Today our offices can be found around the world helping build bridges between science and society and improving the lives of ordinary people.
Since the unification of Germany and the decision to re-establish Berlin as its capital, the city has been enjoying a time of substantial growth creating new city quarters such as the Potsdamer Platz but also the development of key infrastructure that underpins a modern city. An infectious optimism grew across Berlin, across Germany, across Europe. By the mid-90s, there were still an incredible number of areas remaining un-developed from the damage of World War II and when East and West Berlin merged, yet more space for regeneration. As suddenly as it was separated, Berlin became the capital of a reunified Germany. How would the city develop?
Reunited, Re-established, Revitalised
The collapse of the wall and the decision to establish Berlin as Germany’s capital meant BuroHappold’s skills were in high demand. Our first projects in the newly united Berlin were the numerous embassies and residences for countries that flocked back to the emerging capital. The changing political climate brought business to the city with major media companies moving in and BuroHappold providing complete building services engineering for the likes of Universal Music. Investors, creative industries, musicians and artists were drawn by the buzz of the new Berlin. That buzz, that optimism and desire for progress was always part of Berlin’s heart, and it continues to defy the odds today.
Where there are problems, you will find BuroHappold engineers solving them, working on projects like the visionary concept of BeMobility, urban electric mobility. The project is an answer to the question “As an engineer how do you deal with social change?” The world needs alternative urban models, in which not everyone drives a car. A future world may need more car sharing and electric cars. Berlin is an ideal test-bed for those ideas – where open-minded young people are keen to embrace new ways of living. Future plans include venturing into areas that go far beyond traditional engineering activities, a trend which suits BuroHappold and one the firm is keen to explore. Because BuroHappold has been a part of Berlin for 20 years, we truly understand the city and this has helped the firm to avoid the pitfalls that have brought down other developers.
BuroHappold benefits from its young, creative people. Increasingly we receive job applications from young people all over the world. This adds value by creating an extremely international and diverse workforce, with each individual bringing experience and culture benefiting the firm globally.
At the centre of Europe
Berlin is also a gateway to a modern redefined Europe. BuroHappold sees a land of opportunity in the growing economies of Central Europe. With that in mind, Managing Director and Partner, Paul Rogers, drove the opening of the Warsaw office. The enlargement of the EU has brought economic growth which, naturally leads to more opportunities for BuroHappold. Together with Copenhagen, the offices are the firm’s ‘Mainland Europe’ team.
As a global firm we recognise the value combining different skills and knowledge brings. That is why we aren’t just structural or mechanical engineers or urban planners, but being together a range of skills and qualities to deliver the best result for our clients. As our founder once said “What I know about engineering is that it has to be a group activity, and the best work is done by the most diverse group of talents who can still live together.“
The Berlin office, like the Europe team, has an exciting future and will focus on developing the best skills and expertise to provide city-scale engineering solutions that create fabulous places for people.
As part of our celebrations, we’ve created a short film asking our employees questions like ‘Why is Berlin an important city to you and your work?’ and ‘How will your work as an engineer change?’ you can find this video below. You can find our ’20 years in Berlin’ ebook here.
A selection of images from our 20 year celebration, with friends and clients we’ve worked with throughout the years are below..