Licht Kunst Licht AG
Offices & Administration

University Buildings on Campus Westend

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Thomas Müller Ivan Reimann Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Berlin
Federal State of Hesse, represented by Hessisches Baumanagement (Hessian Building and Construction Management)
Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
Project size
30,000 sqm (RUW)
41,700 sqm (PEG)
Stefan Müller
2008 (RUW)
2013 (PEG)
Overall building budget
53 million euros (RUW)
96 million euros (PEG)

Welcome to the City of Knowledge – University Buildings on Campus Westend

The Westend Campus of the Goethe University in Frankfurt is considered the largest educational building site in Germany. With the faculty building for Law and Economics (RUW) finished in 2008, and both the Department of Psychology, Education and Social Sciences (PEG) and Governing and Administration buildings completed in 2013, three further buildings of the university’s large-scale development project have been handed over. The versatile space allocation plan, consisting of lecture halls, lobbies, seminar rooms, and libraries, presented the lighting design with a variety of tasks.

The sensitivity for the buildings’ integration into the entire campus ensemble was also the theme for the electric lighting design concept. Sometimes visible, sometimes hidden, the lighting always stays appropriate to the architecture and offers full functionality to the rooms. Thus, the lighting concept supports the spacious and elegant impact of the two-storey foyers by accenting the billiard-green ceiling with a classic circular cove motif. The edge between the ceiling and the ceiling aperture is softly rounded, similar to the rounded corners of the solid wooden balustrade below. Tiny, flush recessed downlights pleasantly provide the central zone with an appropriate level of usable and atmospheric light. The surrounding galleries and the ground floor are also illuminated with downlights and downlight wallwashers. These areas are intentionally restrained in order not to steal the show from the central interior foyers. The overall effect of the foyer is to be understood as a modern reference – of luxury, but not exorbitance – to the foyer of the former IG Farben Building, which forms the southern end of the campus.

The upper floors’ department facilities and seminar rooms are accessible via two spacious stairwells adjacent to the foyer. The flight of stairs in the main staircase is a free-standing steel structure centered in its envelope. A slot exists between the underside of the stairs and the wood paneling, where a cove light uniformly stretches around all staircase soffits, adding to the sculptural presence of the stairs.

Not entirely recessed in the concrete ceilings due to structural reasons, downlights are located in the remaining areas to complement the space. The alternation of light lines and light points offers the general lighting in all areas, and at the same time prevents excessive monotony and functionality. For ambient quality and to ensure the required light levels for reading and work stations are met, sleek reading lights are fixed to the desks, where they can be freely switched on, rotated, and tilted to bring the required 500 lx to any desired target needed on the table tops.

The two courtyards of the PEG building play a prominent role in the building’s overall design, as their different perspectives display how much the indoor and outdoor space benefit from each other. One example is the view from the interior courtyard into an open, transparent, and active library with warm finishes and inviting light. The synergy is even more strongly supported when looking from the library to the exterior, because only here are the incredibly large dimensions of the selected windows first revealed. Spanning nearly the entire two-storey height, the glazing effectively creates the feeling of sitting outdoors.
In the foyer, dynamically folded skylights form a relief on the ceiling with their impressive daylight gradients, while direct sunlight creates brilliance and life through exciting play of light and shadow. At night, the ceiling remains the center of the design, as the lighting concept incorporates a circular band of light just underneath the skylight profiles. It not only accentuates the structure of the reliefs, but also provides no small contribution to the general lighting.

Licht Kunst Licht AG

On the ground floor, the scene is framed by an intense graze light illumination on the textured concrete walls surrounding the foyer. A perimeter ceiling light profile displays the walls in a lively and vivid manner. Part of its luminous flux draws a peripheral contour on the ground near the wall, thus making the large foyer tangible as it provides orientation. The light profile is the only light source under the surrounding gallery, resulting in an appropriately dramatic impression.