Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

ECM City Tower

Prague, Czech Republic

2001 - 2008

As part of the larger ECM City, for which Richard Meier & Partners is serving as master planner, the City Tower presents a striking iconic high-rise for the city of Prague. The design reflects a spirited yet restrained formal vocabulary while meeting the demanding technical requirements for the existing and expanded structure. Floor area, efficiency, and flexibility are maximized by the design. The building boasts floor-to-ceiling glass walls with unparalleled views onto the historic city of Prague.

The symbolic west facade, visible from the historic center of Prague, reinterprets Czech Cubism, with the facade’s continuous plane creasing and unfolding to create an abstracted urban-scaled window overlooking the city center. This extended window at the top of the building provides more usable space at the most prominent floors. Undulating within a subtle 1.5-meter depth, the glass facade blurs the perception of a dominant plane and generates the interplay of light and shadow between foreground and background. The unfolding plane extends to the edges of the building with a second layer of glass, acting as a double-facade to define the zones within and dictate the tower’s scale and proportion.

Seen from a distance the architecture is distinguished from the urban context. It is also dramatically visible by pedestrians at street level. An additional subtle layer of the lower portion of the facade addresses the street-level views and defines the base of the building. The sculptural qualities of the entrance canopies and dining terrace along with the metal panel clad two-story lobby characterize the base of the building.

Two interlocking volumes and vertical metal panel walls at the north and south facades express slender profiles and regulate the proportions of the building. The orthogonal east facade defines a clear volume and acts as the backbone of the building. Its expressive and articulated glass frame profiles and metal fins create a restrained spine against which the smooth skin of the west facade may undulate freely. A dramatic technical roof consisting of a central mechanical plant and cooling towers is expressed through a double layer facade of glass and architectural louvers at the top floors of the eastern half of the building.

A VIP restaurant and conference facility on the twenty-seventh floor provides a desirable and unique destination for the city of Prague. The building’s summit contains a sculpted antenna platform and antenna tower whose array of dishes augments the silhouette of this unmistakable landmark building.