January 10, 2017
Herr Bürgermeister Michael Häupl
1010 Wien, Austria
Re: Projeckt Heumarkt
Dear Bürgermeister Häupl:
My name is William Odell and I am a principal at the global architecture firm, HOK. I am writing to express my strong opposition to the planned Projeckt Heumarkt. After careful review of this project I feel it is inappropriate in scale and overall design. Additionally, I believe the size of the building will have a long term negative impact on the character of Vienna.
My personal perspective of Vienna and this site in particular stems from many decades of visiting family in Vienna and having taught in Austria for several years. Vienna has one of the finest historical centers of any city in the world. The proposed project would significantly diminish the city of Vienna. It is out of scale with the rest of the city and its architectural design is not in keeping with the standards of other buildings in the city. Even more importantly, it would set a terrible precedent for the future.
The few tall buildings that have been allowed to be built in the past so near to the Ringstrasse and the historic center were a mistake as many in Vienna now acknowledge. But it is too late to rectify those mistakes. Allowing the Heumarkt project to be built just opens the door for many other similar structures to be built in the future. “If they can do it, why can’t others be built?” As additional tall buildings are proposed, it becomes easy for others to make the argument that, “Our project is only a little taller than the last.” In a short time, the historic core city will be surrounded by tall buildings greatly diminishing the character of Vienna. In the rush to find sites for tall buildings it is also easy to see the possibility of losing historic buildings outside of the Ring.
HOK has designed many award winning projects across the globe. So, we know how important is to be respectful of the context of any project we design, especially in cities with a strong historical architectural and city planning legacy as Vienna. There are many areas in the greater metropolitan area of Vienna where tall buildings already exist and are appropriate.
Again, I strongly oppose this project and hope that you will deny it.
HELLMUTH, OBATA + KASSABAUM, INC.
William E. Odell