Architecture of Munich Reinsurance Company’s HQ

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Today, as I sit in my lovely new apartment in Florida (it really is pretty special), I am missing Munich a little. Therefore, I will share with you just one of the stunning buildings of my former city of residence. My husband and I discovered it on our mission to see all 111 things listed in our favorite guidebook.

It’s the HQ of the Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellshaft, or the Munich Reinsurance Company. Here’s the front of said HQ, and I’m afraid I can’t take credit for this photo; I found it on the company’s website.

Speaking of websites, you would not believe the internet research I had to do in order to dig up information about this building! I’m more than a little proud of myself. The only thing I had to go on were my pictures of the place and my memory of its location. For this blog, I zoomed in on the name of the company in my pictures and launched my internet search from there.

Speaking of location, it’s just outside the English Garden, Munich’s “Central Park” so to speak. We were looking for the Munich Riding School when I saw this place. The riding school is just across the street on the edge of the English Garden. Just beyond the riding school in the picture below is the Garden.

In fact, you encounter mounted riders in the park on its many bridle trails who have issued forth from said riding school. But I digress…

Here are my pictures of the front of the place, which has a great courtyard behind columns in front. Here are the columns close up:

 
The courtyard proper:
I discovered that Munich Reinsurance was founded by one Carl von Thieme in 1880 in, where else, Munich. It has survived both world wars and many disasters it had to pay out for. In fact, it was the only insurance company solvent after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake claims were paid.
The statues atop the colonnade are personifications of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The sculptors were Ernst Geiger from Berlin and Josef Wackerle from Partenkirchen. Wackerle was born the same year as Munich Reinsurance was founded, Geiger the year before.
Other interesting tidbits I uncovered:
  • The company goes by the moniker “Munich Re” these days, both in Germany and abroad. It’s a huge, international company and has been for a long time. In fact, it’s overseas investments and components both precluded its doing business with the Nazis during WWII and saved its financial a** at the same time.
  • The architects were Oswald Eduard Bieber (no relation) and Wilhelm Hollweck.
  • The building has elements of art nouveau and classicism and was constructed during 1912/13.
  • A year after the building was finished, WWI broke out.
  • It has been listed as a historical preservation site since 1973.
  • A reinsurance company insures parts of risks taken on by other insurance companies.
  • Warren Buffet is a major stockholder of Munich Re, owning over 11% of its shares.
  • Munich Re had over 300 employees working in six different buildings in 1911; that’s why they decided to build this HQ, its first self-owned building.
  • The front door faces niginstrasse (“Queen Street). The company website had this great pic of the backyard. Wish I’d walked around back when I was there! This little park stretches all the way to the next street, which is Kaulbachstrasse.

Another interesting bit of info: The original plans were to have the front door on Kaulbachstrasse so that the park in back merged into the English Garden. However, apparently some people wanted the address on Queen Street instead of Kaulbachstrasse, so the plans were rotated 180 degrees for the actual construction.

Munich Re’s website even had a picture of the building under construction in 1912. See all the guys on the roof?

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So that’s my reminiscence of just one of Munich’s grand edifices. I hope you found a little interest and entertainment in my excursion!

Oh, and please check out my new blog I’ve started with my excellent friend, Cyndie Smith. It’s called America’s Test Chicken – and please join our Facebook group for all sorts of fun in the kitchen!

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