BMW HQ: ahead of its time?

Interesting | April 24th, 2011 by 5
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Our friend Richard Aucock offers us an interesting view of the famous BMW Headquarters in Munich. Think more along the line of four-cylinder engines and …

Our friend Richard Aucock offers us an interesting view of the famous BMW Headquarters in Munich. Think more along the line of four-cylinder engines and the history of BMW. Here is an excerpt from his article:

“See, for years, BMW has been famous for 6-cylinder engines. Its straight-sixes have long been adorable, with icons including most of the 1970s and 80s mainstream stuff, plus the 325i, the 528i, the E46 M3, the E34 M5, and umpteen more besides (what I wouldn’t do for an E36 328i Touring, for instance).

Since the E36 318i started becoming the company car of choice in the 1990s though, 4-cylinders have started to win out.

bmw hq munich 4 655x436Good. I love BMW 4-cylinder engines, for their raspy goodness and throbby involvement: since diesels started to become good in the E46 too, they’ve joined the pile for offering thrusting power and amazing economy.

Which takes us to the Munich HQ. Built between 1968 and 1972, just in time for the 1972 Olympic Games, it’s known as BMW-Vierzylinder in German. Yes, ‘BMW four-cylinder’. Although most prefer simply ‘BMW Tower’. The Karl Schwanzer-designed building won historical status in 1999, and is said to be the most iconic piece of architecture in Munich.

UK fame

It first really came to the UK’s attention with the Rover fallout (remember the late-night reports on the news when the crisis was unfolding?). How strange, said car commentators at the time, that a brand famed for its 6 cylinder engines should live within an HQ paying homage to the 4-cylinder engine.”

Full article continued

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5 responses to “BMW HQ: ahead of its time?”

  1. Hugo Becker says:

    Nice, but …

    The building was designed for the flow of information between groups of people. Up to the point of the four-cylinder being built, BMW’s staff was scattered in various locations in Munich. BMW engaged efficiency experts to determine how best to consolidate their staff and along the way found that keeping people (colleagues) within 50 meters of each other was optimal for the flow of information within a department. Hence the grouping of four cylindrical towers on a central core. And the use of an open floor plan. Interesting that this was a bit ahead of its time and that BMW in the late ’60s had yet to see the sales growth that they experienced a decade later.

    They could have done six cylinders but that probably would have pushed out the edges of each floor beyond the 50 meters (the central core would have had to have been ‘thicker’ to accommodate six independent cylinders touching it).

    The building used some pretty special construction processes when it went up. Basically it was built from the top down, with the individual floors being built on the ground then raised up into position.

  2. dartz says:

    from what i know, BMW cars engines before 1968 have only 4 cylinders…..

    • dartz says:

      and only a V8

    • Hugo Becker says:

      Actually, they had a healthy mix of cylinder counts. If you only look at post WW II cars there were sixes, fours, V8s and two cylinder cars (the 250, 300, 600, & 700 cars that ran the motorrad engines).

      But your point is well taken, in the rest of the world (outside the US) four cylinder models do make up the preponderance of the brand.

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