New MOL Headquarters Topped-out

Office Market

MOL Campus headquarters in Budapest under construction

Hungarian oil and gas company MOL has topped out its 120-meter high, 28-floor MOL Campus in south Buda overlooking the Danube. The complex, which can be seen from many parts of the city, is now the tallest building in Budapest at 165 meters at the highest point.

The building thus overtakes the 93-meter Semmelweis Medical University tower in District VIII. Building regulations for the city center state that structures cannot be higher than 96 meters, the height of the St István Basilica and the Hungarian Parliament, completed in 1904 and 1905, respectively.

The 86,000 sqm Neo-modern building, the size of 12 football pitches, has been designed by the world-renowned Foster + Partners and Hungary’s Finta Studio. The project essentially consists of a tower and podium and will house around 2,500 staff working at the complex.

London-based Foster + Partners were chosen after a public tender. An architect was needed with experience in designing high-rise projects, and a London-based studio was, therefore, an obvious choice.

The project has achieved BREEAM “Excellent” and LEED “Platinum” certificates, the highest possible sustainability accreditations. The designers have emphasized open space and natural light; the complex, located on a 54-hectare site, provides 20 hectares of green space.

“We need the office space to support the developing industry by bringing together staff that are currently based at several different office buildings across the city,” commented Péter Ratatics, chief operating officer of MOL Hungary, at the topping-out ceremony

“There were too many complexities in the design for us to undertake a built-to-suit development in partnership with a developer, so we made the decision to develop the project ourselves in partnership with Market Építő,” he explained. 

High-rise Skyline

Due to the planning regulations in the historic center of Budapest, where the aim is to protect the skyline and classical look and feel of the city, developers are unable to construct high rise buildings. That is not the case in, for example, Bratislava, Belgrade, and Warsaw, where the central skyline is increasingly dominated by high-rise office and residential projects.

“The MOL Group needed and deserved such a high-quality landmark HQ building. Therefore, I understand and see the importance of such a project. I am not against high-rise buildings, and I can see why MOL and the architects have chosen such a shape for their new landmark project,” says Zsombor Barta, president of the Hungarian Green Building Council (HuGBC), on the project.

“However, its location and its integration into the existing city structure are more questionable for me. Budapest does not traditionally have high-rise buildings or districts. It differs from, for example, Warsaw a lot. Therefore, for me, the location of the tower is questionable, as it does not necessarily integrate into the existing urban structures and shapes, and this can be a bit disturbing for many people. The high-rise concept is for sure something new in Budapest’s architectural environment,” he notes.

“The example of the MOL project shows that, theoretically, more high-rises could be built. However, as high-rises are not typical for Budapest […], I do not think that we will see more and more high-rise projects popping up. As I understand, the regulatory body stated that the MOL project was a one-off; no further [projects] should follow,” he adds.  

The general contractor, Market Építő, is due to complete the MOL Campus by fall 2022.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of September 10, 2021.

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