Tagged : internship

An offer you can’t refuse

Here’s the deal. You pay me 150 million euros and you receive 300 million euros back. And it’s no scam. For many all people, this would be ‘the perfect deal’. What would your answer be?

Surprisingly, many people (or companies for that matter) answer ‘no’ to this question. BMW, the German automobile company, did not. They decided to go for it!

Back in 2000, they were in need of a new corporate headquarters. After consulting several architecture companies, they picked Wolf Prix’s Coop Himmelb(l)au as architect of their choice. In 2007 their new headquarters, BMW Welt, opened for business. The building had a staggering price tag of over 150 million euros.

When I worked for Coop Himmelb(l)au, I spoke with someone who had been involved in this project. This architect told me there was quite some debate within Coop Himmelb(l)au and BMW. Is it worth erecting a building worth over 150 million euros? Can we build it for half the money? Does BMW Welt have to be this spectacular? Ultimately Wolf Prix convinced BMW to spend the money and build this ‘temple for BWM’ as he called it. The result: In the following years, BMW received free exposure and media coverage worth hundreds of millions of euros because of their new headquarters.

I’m not suggesting bigger is always better. However, sometimes, it can be worth spending a bit more money to reach your goal. Ultimately vision and courage of the client are factors that matter most. Which is even more true during times of economic hardship.


Today, ten years ago, two hijacked planes were driven into the towers of the World Trade Center. Killing thousands of people and changing the lives of so many more. Todays remembrance made me think of three years ago.

Back then, my apartment was located on a 10 minutes walk from downtown Manhattan. On the morning of 9/11 2008 I walked to Ground Zero. The thing I remember most is the silence. It was respectfully quiet. Although it had been seven years since the attacks, I could still see tears and despair in the eyes of many people.

In the evening, hours later, I encountered the opposite of despair. I went to Columbia University to see Barack Obama the at the 9/11 Presidential Forum. He was still a candidate back then. By seeing him, sitting in the front seat of his SUV (I wasn’t allowed inside), I realized hope returned for many New Yorkers. Less than two months later, he won the US Presidential Elections which changed the lives of so many ordinary Americans.

Photo description: This is a photo I snapped several hours after I saw Obama. It’s called Tribute in Light. This is an art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the September 11 attacks.

Donald Trump

Most sports have breaks. With football there’s half-time, which is a 15 minute break. NBA basketball has four quarters which gives us two breaks of two, and a halftime break of 15 minutes. On TV, these breaks are filled with commercials. Obviously, when you’re in the stadium, you won’t see any tv commercials. So what do organizers of large sport events do to entertain the public during those minutes?

Three years ago I went to a baseball match of the NY Mets. During (commercial) breaks several cameras scanned the crowd for young couples. One of those couples would get broadcasted in the stadium. The moment they found out they’re visible for the entire stadium, a text appears on the screens, saying “Kiss your girlfriend!” After the kiss, the director puts a new couple on the screen. And on and on. Until the break is over. This kept the entire stadium engaged.

But there’re more ways to entertain. How about clowns during the rodeo or a show by the U.S. Olympic Trampoline team during the halftime break of a basketball match?! (btw, it was a great show!).

The how-to-fill-up-a-break-without-commercials I remember best was during the quarter finals of the 2008 US Open (tennis). Novac Djokovic played against Andy Roddick. During one of the breaks a very familiar tune starts playing in the Artur Ashe Stadium. I know this tune, For the love of money, as the theme to the reality television show The Apprentice. I quickly figured there must be a reason to play this song during a break in the stadium. Maybe The Donald is in the stadium? My heart jumped a bit. Would I really see Donald Trump? Thé Donald Trump?!

My eyes moved towards the large screen in the stadium. At the same time, the stadium speaker introduced “the guy everyone associates with this tune”. And there he was, in full screen, visible for everyone in the stadium. Donald “You’re Fired” Trump. The entire audience started to cheer while The Donald smiled to the camera. My eyes quickly scanned the stadium. Where would he be sitting? I pointed my photo camera to a vip-box in front of me and zoomed in quite a bit. And there he was! To me, the quarter finals of the US Open changed from great to unique.


Coop Himmelb(l)au Q/A

Sometimes readers of this blog ask questions about previous blog posts and my previous experiences. This time it’s a question about me being an intern at Vienna based architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au. I could answer the inquirer by email, but by answering his questions on this blog I might help other people. Here’s our Q/A…

How’s the experience?

In one word: Fantastic! In the past I worked for several architecture firms. But non of them employed over 150 employees (which is pretty big for an architecture firm!). And none of them had projects all over the world (ranging from the United States to China and from Azerbaijan to Albania). Also the fact that one of the founders, Wolf D. Prix, still works at this company adds something special to the experience. Wether you’d agree with his design philosophies or not, it is awesome to learn (first hand) from such a worldwide renowned architect! And to quote a colleague: “It is fantastic to work for a company who invented their own architecture style”. And this is actually true (check Wikipedia!).

How’s the work environment?

Very special. Each project will comprise a small team of 5-10 people. Within such a team you’ll make friends really soon. Since stakes are high, people sometimes often make long days, but are thoroughly motivated. This adds to the ‘energy’ inside the office. There are models, concept renderings and drawings all over the place!

What kind of projects did you work on?

Big projects! That’s all I can say. I’m sorry! Everyone working with Coop Himmelb(l)au has to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Since my projects aren’t even mentioned on their website (or anywhere else on the web), I’m not allowed to tell you a single thing about the projects I worked on.

What software did you use?

AutoCAD and Rhino for the 2D and 3D drawings. Also I used Photoshop and InDesign a lot.

To conclude: Perhaps the best thing at doing an internship at this (or probably any other) company is you’ll get the chance to meet so many interesting and fascinating people. And you’ll work on fascinating projects worldwide, while you live and work in the old and classic city of Vienna.


Internship @ Coop Himmelb(l)au

During my undergraduate studies I wanted to do an internship at a large international architecture firm. In 2010 I reached this goal by working for Vienna based company Coop Himmelb(l)au.

Deconstructivist Architecture

Coop Himmelb(l)au was founded in 1986. It’s an architecture firm primarily located in Vienna, Austria. The company was founded by Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. It gained international acclaim alongside Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry with the 1988 exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture” at MoMA.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Coop Himmelb(l)au is the fact they have their own style. I mean, they practically invented deconstructivism and they’re proud of it. And why wouldn’t they!

During the course of the internship I worked on several great projects. Believe me, it’s kinda special to work on skyscrapers worth over 200 million Euros (290 million USD).

Controlled Chaos

According to Wikipedia, the architectural style of Deconstructivism is characterized by ideas of fragmentation. The finished visual appearance is characterized by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos. This is also true for one of the projects I was working on… controlled chaos.

Unfortunately I can’t share any information of the project I was working on, although I already wrote it’s a skyscraper. A soon as the project hits the website of Coop Himmelb(l)au, I’ll also post it here. In the mean time, I’ll share some photos of the beautiful city of Vienna.

The Austrian Parliament

The statue of Athena in front of the Austrian Parliament

View of the world famous Schönbrunn Palace

Hofburg Theater

The Hundertwasserhaus

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) at Stephansplatz

The Votive Church (Votivkirche)

Inside the Austrian Parliament

Inside the Wiener Musikverein

City Hall

The ferris wheel (Riesenrad) at Prater park

‘Roman’ Ruin at Schönbrunn (erected in 1778)

View of the world famous Schönbrunn Palace during winter time

I just realized I didn’t include pictures of the Hofburg Palace, State Opera, The Johan Strauss Monument or St. Charles’s Church, to name a view. Maybe Vienna has too many monuments?!