Creating an architectural dialog

With its spectacular architecture and successful integration of Martin Elsaesser's historic Wholesale Market Hall, the headquarters of the European Central Bank, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au, has made its mark on Frankfurt's skyline. Following an international selection process, unit-design was commissioned in 2007 to design the signage and information system as well as the branding on display inside and outside the new ECB. Alongside the functional task of ensuring an intuitive means of orientation for visitors and employees, our design complements the architecture with stand-alone elements with a distinct presence. Three-dimensional lettering that appears to float in mid-air has a striking effect, reaching a considerable distance despite its transparency, and lending an identity to facilities such as a restaurant or conference room. 

"The colors and the nature of the materials used in the metal elements, with their transparent yellow backgrounds, generate character all of their own as they interact with the building itself, and add subtle details." Bernd Hilpert


The typeface and pictograms were developed specially for the method of production employed. The design of the system is in perfect harmony with both the state-of-the-art office building and the historical context of the former Wholesale Market Hall. The long-distance effectiveness and eye-catching identification of the various areas help guests and employees to find their way around the spacious premises.





The principle behind the design has been transferred specifically to a range of applications. Not only have digital means of conveying information been provided and systems for presenting varying content, but there is also printing applied directly to walls and floors. The system comprises roughly 50 different, specially developed product types with more than 8,000 individual items installed.

Illuminated glass

In principle, the elements consist of a sandwich made up of an assortment of laser-cut layers. The lettering is outlined in a warm, anodized shade, while it is filled with glass illuminated in yellow. Where possible, the elements were installed off-set from their backgrounds or free-standing in the form of large monolith-style signs and large format lettering. This produces lighting effects within the transparent layer that are constantly changing depending on how the light falls.



Europäische Zentralbank

Project partner

Albert Speer und Partner, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Drees & Sommer


Norbert Miguletz


2014 - 2016


conception, construction management, design, design manual, engineering, operational support, planning, product design, routing, tender services, visual identity


European Central Bank


Bernd Hilpert, Peter Eckart, Sabrina Heinze, Heidrun Althen, Konrad Regel, Christian Breig, Robert Cristinetti, Bruno Scheffler, Leslie Hildebrandt, Lisa Kelso