Whatever you think of high rise buildings, the appointment of architects Foster and Partners to design the new MOL headquarters (to be known as the MOL Campus) on the banks of the Danube, guarantees it will be dramatic.
The award-winning British architectural firm has an enviable back catalogue, including being responsible for one of modern Londonʼs most iconic buildings, 30 St Mary Axe, better known as the Gherkin. For the MOL project, it will work with the well regarded local company Finta és Társai Építész Stúdió Kft.
The skyscraper will rise 28 stories to 120 meters high, the tallest maximum height for a building in Budapest (Parliament and St. Stephen’s Basilica, are both 96 meters high), and will be topped by a panoramic terrace open to the public. The campus will function as the HQ for MOL units currently operating in 11 separate buildings, with the company scheduled to move in by 2021. It is arguably the most controversial element of the BudaPart project at Kopaszi gát (dam) near Lágymányos Bay.
BudaPart is a phased development project scheduled to take ten years to fully realize, by which time 6,000 people are expected to be living there, with 24,000 working in its offices. The first two residential buildings, which will have a total of 265 apartments, and BudaPart Gate, an 18,000 sqm class “A” office unit are currently under construction. Sales have just been opened for two more residential buildings offering another 390 units.
“We are indeed very excited that MOL has chosen Foster and Partners as design architects for the MOL Campus,” Gergely Árendás, managing director of Property Market Ingatlanfejlesztő Kft., the owner and developer of BudaPart, told the Budapest Business Journal. “We have taken part in the architectural selection process and firmly believe that they are the right partners for MOL and for this project. It will be a truly state of the art building at a building quality as yet unseen in Budapest.”
Asked if the builder in him was not a little sorry that Property Market would not now build the high-rise, Árendás said he had no regrets. “A truly unique HQ building is only possible to do if the occupier owns it, so we are therefore confident that this is the right way to implement this project.”
Not everyone has been so welcoming of the planned skyscraper, however, a fact Árendás admitted was almost inevitable in an earlier interview with the BBJ when he said “High rise buildings are always the subject of public debate.”
Most recently István Scheller, a former principal architect of Budapest, waded into the debate when he wrote a letter to express his concerns about the building, according to 24.hu. Scheller said high-rise buildings is no longer the dominant trend in the world, there should have been a debate on the issue.
He argued that other recent large buildings in priority areas along the Danube, such as the Duna Arena, the National Theater, and the Palace of Arts have all failed to become popular. He also said the building does not fit into the landscape, neither regarding the Buda hills, nor the historical character of the town.