BMW Headquarters (German: BMW-Vierzylinder “BMW four-cylinder”; also BMW Tower or BMW Hochhaus) is a Munich landmark which has served as world headquarters for the Bavarian automaker BMW for over 40 years. It was declared a protected historic building in 1999. Extensive renovations commenced in 2004 and were completed in 2006.
Concept and construction
The Tower was built between 1968 and 1972 and was ready in time for 1972 Summer Olympics. Its inauguration followed on 18 May 1973. The 101-metre (331 ft) building is located near the Olympic Village and is often cited as one of the most notable examples of architecture in Munich. The tower’s exterior is supposed to mimic the shape of four cylinders in a car engine, with the museum representing a cylinder head. Both buildings were designed by the Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer.
The main tower consists of four vertical cylinders standing next to and across from each other. Each cylinder is divided horizontally in its center by a mold in the facade. Notably, these cylinders do not stand on the ground; they are suspended on a central support tower. During the construction, individual floors were assembled on the ground and then elevated. The tower has a diameter of 52.30 metres (171.6 ft) and it has 22 occupied floors, two of which are basements and 18 serve as office space.
During the 1972 Summer Olympics BMW branding was removed from the buildings to prevent product placement. BMW badging was also removed from the 2002 sedans, which accompanied Olympic marathon runners during the competition. The branding was removed again for the building’s cameo appearance in the 1975 film Rollerball, replaced by large orange circles, meant to stand for the fictional ruling Energy Corporation of the future.
The building also made an appearance in the 1977 horror film Suspiria.