Skip to main content

The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg


The Elbphilharmonie scored ninth on a list of the ten most expensive skyscrapers ever built (MMO 2014). With its southeastern corner at 110 m, it marginally enters the skyscraper category but is in the prominent company of Taipei 101, Burj-al-Khalifa, or One World Trade Center. Alas, the city of Hamburg never desired a position in this ranking. When the city signed the construction contract in 2006, it planned for total project costs to be €351.8 million and to open the Elbphilharmonie in 2010 (Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg 2014). Over the following years, costs progressively escalated, while project progress was delayed. It became a planning disaster, with total project costs rising to €560.8 million by 2008 (Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg 2008c, 5; B/PUA 2014, 25).


  • Execution Planning
  • Construction Company
  • Optimism Bias
  • Change Request
  • Contract Signature

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD   109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. 1.

    Source from here on cited as B/PUA 2014.

  2. 2.

    As signature projects, we understand projects with unique characteristics: pioneering new technologies, combining functions in a special way, or symbolic meaning.

  3. 3.

    This is a single-case, interpretative case study. Our sources are one interview conducted in Hamburg on 09.01.2015, one telephone interview conducted on 12.02.2015, newspaper reports, academic articles, publically available official documentation, and published expert opinions.

  4. 4.

    Budäus (2013: 8) speaks of a “point of no return” for parliaments.

  5. 5.

    From here on cited as Abendblatt 2013.

  6. 6.

    Budäus mentions that path dependencies can also be desirable to a certain extent, as they reduce complexity.

  7. 7.

    While experienced in handling large construction projects, Wegener did not have special credentials in highly complex, multiuse, above ground-level projects.

  8. 8.

    B/PUA identifies Wegener as the head of ReGe and project coordinator as one of the main decision-makers responsible for the Elbphilharmonie’s cost and time overruns. Wegener denies these accusations. This chapter is not an investigation into ReGe’s internal dynamics, nor is its aim to assign personal blame. We avoid attributing decisions to individuals, because from our goal to improve project management, focusing on individual’s mistakes blurs the scope for analyzing systematic and systemic shortcomings. Budäus (2013: 10) also mentions that explaining cost overruns through personal factors limits the opportunities for general improvement.

  9. 9.

    By LEAN management, Wegener meant a small core team working on the project, hiring external knowledge for specific tasks and outsourcing others. Unfortunately, the analysis of the impact of the LEAN management approach on project performance is not in the scope of this chapter. This would certainly be a useful endeavor, since it could be argued that this management style may not be suitable vis-à-vis an approach resting on constant management capacity.

  10. 10.

    Budäus (2013: 13) mentions that a separation of planning responsibility is a disadvantageous arrangement in a complex project.

  11. 11.

    Neither the official report by the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission nor our interview partners could beyond doubt clarify whether this setup was desired by the city, the architects, or both.

  12. 12.

    Hochtief represented the investor consortium Adamanta as the official bidder in the tender process. Apart from Hochtief, Adamanta included a financial investor and potential tenants for the commercial envelope. We speak of Hochtief instead of Adamanta, since it was the major representative of stakeholder interests on Adamanta’s side.

  13. 13.

    Apartments stayed under ownership of Adamanta’s subinvestor Skyliving, whom Hamburg would charge for the apartment construction (B/PUA 2014:10).

  14. 14.

    Simplified description.

  15. 15.

    Since we do not see a change in the tender process to potentially having resulted in better project delivery, we do not analyze it closer. A detailed reconstruction can be found in B/PUA (2014: 63–82).

  16. 16.

    The potential worst-case scenario of a negative cross-financing was discussed within Hamburg’s agencies before the decision for the forfeit model was made. Civil servants raised concerns over a public entity becoming the owner of a high-class hotel (B/PUA 2014: 149–155).

  17. 17.

    It is not possible to attribute single decisions as either “delusional” or “deceptive,” since both work together. We suggest that, for some decisions, the intentional aspect was stronger. Budäus (2013: 20) comes to similar conclusion regarding the effects of the “Elbphilharmonie-euphoria.”

  18. 18.

    This is a simplified description used for a vivid illustration of the process.

  19. 19.

    Under contract amendment four, the budget was increased to €16.2 million (B/PUA 2014: 57–60, 252f).

  20. 20.

    As we will explain further.

  21. 21.

    We explain claim management further.

  22. 22.

    Though not using the concept, Budäus (2013: 6), tasked with an economic investigation into the Elbphilharmonie’s problems, similarly speaks of the lack of transparency of ex ante cost estimates.

  23. 23.

    Naturally entailing a longer planning and negotiation process, resulting in additional costs.

  24. 24.

    Hamburg’s government tried to estimate RFC but stopped the process because of its difficulty and its ex post limited practicability for project delivery (Interview from 09.01.2015).

  25. 25.

    The role of transaction costs is, for example, explained by Budäus (2013: 26).

  26. 26.

    The integration of the investor planning was the first big fight between ReGe and Hochtief—ReGe took the position that the integration of investor’s planning was included in the contract, Hochtief argued it was not. After receiving extended legal advice, ReGe gave up its position and accepted Hochtief’s claims.

  27. 27.

    Our interview partner suggested that the necessary renegotiation of the loan payment schedule in the face of the opening delay alone has cost more than €15 million (Interview from 09.01.2015).

  28. 28.

    The report claims user change requests were made one month before contract closure. This would still be insufficient time to include such drastic changes in an ongoing planning process.

  29. 29.

    Cost escalations due to user change requests are investigated in B/PUA (2014). They assess them to be at €0.1 million, pointing at additionally necessary shell construction prices. But shell construction is only a small share of overall construction costs, since changed areas also need equipment, interior fittings, and rescheduling of plans. The assessment is unrealistic.

  30. 30.

    Though we can assume a correlation between unfinished planning and change requests, if planning had been finished at the expense of a longer planning process, probably all stakeholders could have voiced their requests in time.

  31. 31.

    Simplified description of the claim management process. More detail in B/PUA (2014: 170–269).

  32. 32.

    Budäus (2013: 20ff) gives a game theoretic account of claim management.

  33. 33.

    Our interview partner suggested this was the single most expensive mistake (Interview from 12.02.2015).

  34. 34.

    Mr. Wegener’s personal style of anti-claim management seemed sometimes successful. When notified that Hochtief claimed over €5 million for the additionally necessary concrete poles founding the Kaispeicher, he sent back the document, commenting “We are not paying for this unsubstantiated impertinence!” The city finally paid around €1.35 million.

  35. 35.

    ReGe argued that it could not give information to the parliament pertaining the progress of negotiations with Hochtief, because they would get published and thereby weaken ReGe’s bargaining position. See, for example, Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg (2007b, c, d, 2008a, b).

  36. 36.

    For details about the construction stop, see Abendblatt (2013: 14).

  37. 37.

    Also in Budäus (2013: 8f).

  38. 38.

    Stated by architect Gerkan in an interview together with de Meuron.

  39. 39.

    While this is a common belief of decision makers and can serve to justify deception, we have not found any example of a large public infrastructure project that has been cancelled in a political process because pre-contractual cost estimates got too high. Bent Flyvbjerg on several occasions picked up similar arguments and highlights that misrepresented projects may have blocked the way for actually better projects (Flyvbjerg 2009: 348f).

  40. 40.

    This is an idea developed during an informal talk in the German Ministry of Finance.


  • Budäus, D. (2013, February 11). Fehlentwicklungen bei öffentlichen Großprojekten. Ursachen und Maßnahmen zu deren Vermeidung unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Projekts “Elbphilharmonie” und der öffentlichen Beschaffungsvariante Public Private Partnership. Erstellt für die Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. Available at:

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2007a, November 30). Drucksache 18/7408. Schriftliche Kleine Anfrage des Abgeordneten Claudius Lieven (GAL) vom 21.11.07 und Antwort des Senats.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2007b, November 13). Drucksache 18/7278. Schriftliche Kleine Anfrage des Abgeordneten Jan Quast (SPD) vom 05.11.07 und Antwort des Senats.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2007c, September 9). Drucksache 18/6943. Mitteilung des Senats an die Bürgerschaft. Schriftliche Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Gesine Dräger und Walter Zuckerer (SPD) vom 10.09.07 und Antwort des Senats.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2007d, September 4). Drucksache 18/6905. Mitteilung des Senats an die Bürgerschaft. Bericht über den Stand des Projektes Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2008a, December 23). Drucksache 19/1841. Mitteilung des Senats an die Bürgerschaft. Haushaltsplan-Entwurf 2009/2010; Realisierung des Projektes Elbphilharmonie; Sach-standsbericht zum 23. Dezember 2008 und Ergänzung des Haushaltsplan-Entwurfs 2009/2010 zur Finanzierung von Mehrkosten.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2008b, April 4). Drucksache 19/73. Schriftliche Kleine Anfrage des Abgeordneten Michael Neumann (SPD) vom 26.3.2008 und Antwort des Senats.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2008c, January 11). Drucksache 18/7641. Schriftliche Kleine Anfrage des Abgeordneten Jan Quast (SPD) vom 03.01.08 und Antwort des Senats.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg. (2013, April 8). Nachtrag 5 zum Leistungsvertrag für das Projekt Elbphilharmonie. Neuordnungsvereinbarung. Available at:

  • Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg (B/PUA). (2014, April 3). Drucksache 20/11500. Bericht des Parlamentarischen Ausschusses Elbphilharmonie.

    Google Scholar 

  • Der Spiegel. (2013, June 10). Versaute Verhältnisse. Available at:

  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2007). Policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects: Problems, causes, cures. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 34, 578–597.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2008). Curbing optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation in planning: Reference class forecasting in practice. European Planning Studies, 16(1), 3–21.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2009). Survival of the unfittest: why the worst infrastructure gets built—and what we can do about it. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 25(3), 344–367.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). (2015, February 27). Millionengrab Elbphilharmonie. Der große Eisberg über der Stadt. Available at:

  • HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. (2000). Hafencity Hamburg. Der Masterplan. Available at:

  • Hamburger Abendblatt (Abendblatt). (2013, December 13). Wunschkonzert. Wie aus einer genialen Idee der größte Bauskandal in Hamburgs Historie wurde. Die unglaubliche Geschichte der Elbphilharmonie. Special Edition.

    Google Scholar 

  • Handelsblatt. (2005, April 4). Die Stunde der Claim Manager. Sie handeln, wo Chef und Syndikus versagen. Available at:

  • Interview from 09.01.2015, by Jobst Fiedler and Sascha Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Interview from 12.02.2015, conducted over telephone by Jobst Fiedler.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manager Magazin (MMO). (2014, December 5). Hamburger Elbphilharmonie in einer Liga mit One World Trade Center. Available at:

  • Wegener, H., & Uhl, A. (2014). Success and failure factors for mega projects. A focus on the airbus plant expansion and the Elbphilharmonie construction in the hamburg metropolitan. 360° – The Business Transformation Journal, 11, 55–65.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Appendix 3.1. Project Timeline

Appendix 3.1. Project Timeline


The “HafenCity” project starts.


Previous plans for the Kaispeicher A premise to host a cultural site are dropped in favor of plans to erect the “Media City Port,” an office tower.


The investor and project developer Alexander Gerard and his wife, Jana Marko, start to develop the idea of a concert hall at the Kaispeicher A site.

September 23, 2001

A coalition of CDU, FDP, and the Schill-Party win the Bürgerschaft election; Ole von Beust becomes Hamburg’s First Mayor.

October 31, 2001

Patrick Taylor, old and new business partner of Alexander Gerard, sends a letter to the Mayor, bringing up the idea of a concert hall in the Kaispeicher.

December 21, 2001

The first meeting between Gerard and HdM takes place, in which the architects craft the idea of a “wave” atop the Kaispeicher.

2002, Fall

Hamburg’s government looks into the possibilities of a new concert hall for the city and plans for an “AquaDome” concept at Magdeburger Hafen. Gerard counters by publishing his concept of a cultural use for the Kaispeicher and an office tower next to it to receive cross-financing.

March 2003

Since the project does not get hold, Gerard tasks HdM to develop a project study including visualization.

June 6, 2003

First press coverage of Gerard’s project.

June 26, 2003

Gerard and Marko hold a press conference introducing the Elbphilharmonie concept, using a wooden-and-plastic model made by HdM and elates Hamburg with the Elbphilharmonie idea. The public concert hall in the center of the building is financed by a private envelope around it, consisting of gastronomy, apartments, a parking garage, and a hotel. The city should not provide funding and just present investors with the premise.

August 21, 2003

Open letter by renowned Hamburg architects to the Mayor, pleading him to enable the Elbphilharmonie and to select the HdM sketch.

September 26, 2003

The SPD opposition requests the Senate to drop the “AquaDome” project and concentrate on the Elbphilharmonie project. AquaDome is dropped on October 24, 2003.

October 7, 2003

Patrick Taylor, previous business partner of Alexander Gerard, leaves the project. Gerard’s new partner would be Dieter Becken.

December 16, 2003

The Senate officially announces to continue investigating the possibilities of the Elbphilharmonie project.

December 30, 2003

Following the Schill-Scandal, the Bürgerschaft decides for new elections.

February 29, 2004

Elections for the Bürgerschaft, a new CDU-only government emerges; Karin von Welck becomes the new Senator for Cultural Matters.

May 3, 2004

Alexander Gerard and Jana Mako meet Christoph Lieben-Seutter in Vienna.

May 4, 2004

Meeting between Ole von Beust and Hartmut Wegener. Following that, Wegener becomes the Project Coordinator, and the Realisierungsgesellschaft Hamburg (ReGe) is tasked with project lead. Soon after, Wegener hires Heribert Leutner as ReGe’s second and Düsseldorf-based lawyer Ute Jasper to accompany the project. On the city’s site, the city-development agency is responsible for the project.

2004, Summer

Yasuhisa Toyota is tasked with the acoustics of the large concert hall.

November 3, 2004

Hamburg buys Alexander Gerard and Dieter Becken, the original investors, out of the project for €3.48 million.

January 19, 2005

ReGe signs the general planning contract with architects HdM.

January 20, 2005

The Senate decides to pursue the project under the proposed investor model.

February 25, 2005

The Europe-wide tender process starts.

April 22, 2005

The architects finish their predesign planning and estimate the constructions costs at €196.7 million.

April 25, 2005

The first phase of the Europe-wide tender process ends, 25 bidders have participated, 6 get selected for round two.

July 12, 2005

The Hamburg Senate receives the feasibility study, which estimates construction costs at €186.7 million.

August–October 2005

Three large private donations contribute €50 million (a single €30 million donation and two €10 million donations) to the project.

October 31, 2005

The Elbphilharmonie Foundation starts working.

October 26, 2005

The Bürgerschaft formally agrees to the tender process.

December 8, 2005

The NDR-Sinfoniker is selected as the orchestra-in-residence for the Elbphilharmonie.

January 6, 2006

The second phase of the tender process ends.

April 12, 2006

ReGe selects STRABAG and IQ2 (consortium consistent of Hochtief, Commerzleasing, ArabellaSheraton, APCOA, Nordmann, Gartner, HSH Nordbank, Bayerische Landesbank, and Quantum) as the final bidders.

April 2006

The architects deliver the design phase plans and estimate construction costs at €228.6 million.

June 2006

ReGe formulates its cost goal of €210 million for the project.

June 2, 2006

The designated general director of the Elbphilharmonie, Christoph Lieben-Seutter, arrives in Hamburg.

June 16, 2006

The architects warn that a premature construction that begins with unfinished planning in this complex project could easily entail large financial claims.

June 27, 2006

ReGe receives an email from the cultural department listing all ongoing change requests: integration of a cafeteria, different partition of offices and backstage area, enlargement of the ticketing area, and integration of a third concert hall.

June 28, 2006

Hamburg decides to forego the previously favored investor model for the forfeit model.

September 15, 2006

Within the deadline, only one remaining bidder, Hochtief (IQ2), delivers a proposal—with construction costs at €274 million.

September 29, 2006

Following a meeting with the First Mayor, it is decided to adapt Hochtief’s proposal to ensure “positive cross-financing.” Postnegotiation talks begin the following day.

November 24, 2006

Hochtief delivers their final offer; construction costs are at €241.3 million.

November 28, 2006

ReGe finds an agreement with STRABAG to settle the claims against the tender process.

December 18, 2006

Hamburg signs the contract with construction company Hochtief. The Senate agrees to the contract 1 day later.

January 16, 2007

A parliamentary information session takes place in which the members of the Bürgerschaft are informed about the contractual setup.

February 2007

The city establishes the Bau KG, with which it installs a board of supervisors to oversee ReGe’s activity.

February 28, 2007

The Bürgerschaft unanimously agrees to the Elbphilharmonie contracts.

March 8, 2007

The first PÄM arrives at the ReGe office.

April 1, 2007

Project Leader Heribert Leutner leaves ReGe.

April 2, 2007

Foundation stone ceremony.

May 31, 2007

A 2-day teambuilding exercise with participants from HdM, Hochtief, and ReGe takes place.

June 1, 2007

Annette Kettner is hired as a replacement for Heribert Leutner as Project Lead.

June 18, 2007

PÄM 75 arrives; Hochtief’s claim sum up to just under €10 million. The same day, The integration of the investor planning is finished, which will turn into PÄM 100.

June 19, 2007

First meeting of the Bau KG’s board of supervisors.

September 2007

The project receives a private donation equivalent to €2 million for the main concert hall’s organ.

October 25, 2007

Hartmut Wegener decides to pass on architect’s plans to the construction company without checking them.

November 7, 2007

The Elbphilharmonie Foundation holds a charity auction to raise money for the project.

November 26, 2007

The second meeting of the board of supervisors takes place.

December 2007

Between December 10 and 18, a series of letters between ReGe and HdM is exchanged with which ReGe wants HdM to clarify whether arriving plans are continuations or changes. HdM refuses and declares about 4 months later that they cannot clarify the planning situation for the city.

December 21, 2007

ReGe hires law firm “Heiermann Franke Knippe” as a legal consultant.

January 24, 2008

The culture department asks Wegener to correct a meeting protocol in which Wegener acknowledged that the tender process’ schedule was chosen because of upcoming elections.

February 1, 2008

A protocol of a Jour-Fixe meeting reveals the destructive work relationship between HdM and Hochtief.

February 24, 2008

Elections for the Bürgerschaft. CDU loses the majority but stays in power, forming a coalition with the Green Party.

March 7, 2008

First handwritten note of Wegener to the Mayor mentioning possible cost overruns (around €50 million).

June 2008

The city-side responsibility shifts from the city development to the culture department.

June 19, 2008

Meeting of the board of supervisors, the day before, Hochtief informed ReGe of their €90 million claim for construction hold-ups, which ReGe delivers at the meeting.

July 1, 2008

A first summit including HdM, ReGe, and Hochtief take place chaired by the First Mayor.

July 29, 2008

A second summit including HdM, ReGe, and Hochtief (with Hochtief and HdM in different sessions) takes place chaired by the First Mayor.

August 8, 2008

Wegener declares the negotiations for contract amendment three to have failed.

September 10, 2008

The board of supervisors allows Wegener a negotiation mandate of €75.2 million, provided a synchronized schedule between Hochtief and HdM exists.

September 11, 2008

A meeting reveals there is no synchronized planning but only a Letter of Intent to establish one.

September 12, 2008

Wegener and Henner Mahlstedt (Hochtief board of directors) meet for another (second) informal negotiation of contract amendment three. The scheduled official meeting on September 17 does not take place.

September 2008

Harald Wegener leaves ReGe; Heribert Leutner returns as the new head of ReGe.

October 9, 2008

Johann C. Lindenberg, former CEO of Unilever Germany, becomes the new head of the board of supervisors. The board members are rotated.

November 10, 2008

HdM project leader David Koch warns in an email of a premature closure of contract amendment four; he renews the warning on November 19 and November 20.

November 26, 2008

Contract amendment four is signed, worth €137.8 million.

January 6, 2009

Wegener writes a letter to von Beust, claiming the expensive contract amendment would not have happened under his leadership.

January 23, 2009

Karin von Welck claims that contract amendment four was a success.

March 4, 2009

Within the Bürgerschaft, the contract amendment four passes against the votes of SPD.

December 19, 2009

The first element of the glass façade is installed.

January 12, 2010

In a concerted visit to the construction site, HdM, Hochtief, and city acknowledge that construction is 8–10 weeks behind. The same day, Hochtief sends a message claiming the opening must be delayed another year.

January 18, 2010

Parliamentary party leaders are informed of the current claim status in a closed session.

2010, Spring

The city files a lawsuit against Hochtief, claiming the delivery of a fixed construction schedule to determine the party responsible for delays.

May 5, 2010

A Parliamentary Inquiry Commission is installed.

May, 2010

HdM delivers a report claiming 4494 lacks in construction quality.

May 28, 2010

Roofing ceremony.

July 18, 2010

Ole von Beust announces his resignation, so does Karin von Welck and other project participants.

August 25, 2010

The Bürgerschaft votes for Christoph Althaus (CDU) as new First Mayor. Reinhard Stuth returns as new head of the cultural department.

November 28, 2010

The Green Party cancels the coalition. The Parliamentary Inquiry Commission, therefore, only publishes a status report.

February 20, 2011

The SPD wins the election with a majority; Olaf Scholz becomes the new First Mayor. New Senator for the cultural department is Barbara Kisseler. The Inquiry Commission is reinstalled.

April 19, 2011

Mahlstedt and Lindenberg agree to a settlement through an arbitrating body, but Hochtief cancels the agreement shortly thereafter.

June 2011

Hochtief conveys to the city that construction would only be finished in April 2014.

June 29, 2011

ReGe presents a document including possible scenarios for a contract termination.

July 13, 2011

Mahlstedt presents to Kisseler the cornerstones of suggested options, including a restructuring of the governance setup and contract termination.

September 20, 2011

Hochtief announces it will stop the work on the concert hall’s main roof in mid-October, due to concerns over the calculated statics.

September 30, 2011

Hochtief announces it will stop its share of planning.

October 2011

The Senate informs the public of the current status, ReGe starts talks with subcontractors to see if they were willing to continue working for the city outside of the Hochtief contract.

November 2011

Hochtief corrects the envisaged construction finish from April to November 2014. The city claims €40.6 million from Hochtief for hold-ups.

January 16, 2012

ReGe threatens Hochtief to withdraw the right for planning shares for the technical equipment, if not provided by February 28.

February 2, 2012

Ole von Beust, questioned by the Inquiry Commission, takes full responsibility for the project.

March 2012

Leutner and new Hochtief-Europe CEO Rainer Eichholz develop ideas for a restructuring but drop them again.

April 12, 2012

The city threatens contract termination if the roof was not lowered by end May. Hochtief answers it will prepare working continuation.

June 13, 2012

Eichholz cancels the previous formal agreements in a letter.

June 14, 2012

A meeting between Kisseler, Leutner, Margedant, Hill, and Eichholz fails to deliver progress.

June 21, 2012

Hochtief receives a third ultimatum: The agreed cornerstones should be signed by June 28 or negotiations would be cancelled. Hochtief asks for a prolongation until July 5.

2012, Spring

Spanish construction company ACS, who has previously taken over Hochtief, makes Marcelino Fernández Verdes as CEO of Hochtief Solutions AG.

May 2012

Verdes and David Koch, HdM’s partner in charge of the Elbphilharmonie, meet in Hamburg.

July 3, 2012

Following his call from July 1st, Kisseler and Fernández Verdes meet in Hamburg.

July 5, 2012

A first agreement paper is signed: According to the text, the roof will be lowered, HdM and Hochtief continue planning together, construction will finish in Mid-2015, and cost claims will be settled by an arbitration body.

August 21, 2012

The Senate gives a status report, highlighting that the construction stop was ongoing for 11 months.

August 27, 2012

Kisseler, Hill, Margedant, Fernández Verdes, and Koch meet in Venice. They agree that the July 5 paper is not a viable solution, as long, mutually unsatisfactory arbitration processes would be necessary to settle all cost claims. Kisseler, nevertheless, requests the roof to be lowered as a sign of good faith. In the evening, Kisseler meets with de Meuron, who makes clear that only a complete restructuring including Hochtief is a viable option for HdM—both meetings take place without ReGe and the public knowing.

August 29, 2012

Scholz and Fernández Verdes meet, together with Kisseler, Hill, and Koch. Scholz requests the lowering of the roof. Thereafter, Hochtief allows the city review their accounting statements to clarify on their financial situation.

September 17, 2012

The lowering of the roof begins.

September 19, 2012

ReGe asks for permission to start a contract termination. They put projected €349 million costs in project continuation without Hochtief against €346 million continuing with Hochtief. In a termination scenario, they calculate with a 50–80 % success chance in claiming up to €244 million.

November 2012

Fernández Verdes becomes CEO of Hochtief Solutions AG.

November 23, 2012

Hochtief announces the successful lowering of the roof.

December 4, 2012

A Hamburg-intern summit chaired by Scholz assesses the risk of the alternatives. In the following weeks, several new offers by Hochtief come in.

December 14, 2012

The board of supervisors discusses the final Hochtief restructuring offer but comes to no conclusion.

December 15, 2012

During a special session of the Senate, Scholz receives a message from Hochtief giving in to the last of the city’s demands (the right to contract termination and immediate access to the construction site if the new contracts would not be ready by February 28). The Senate agrees.

January 7, 2013

Leutner resigns.

March 1, 2013

The Senate announces the finish of contract negotiations, only appendices would remain unfinished. They are finished on April 9.

June 19, 2013

With only the votes of the SPD, the contract amendment five passes the Bürgerschaft.

November 2013

Shell construction is finished.

December 2013

Fitting of the “White Skin” starts.

January 2014

The glass façade is finished.

August 2014

The roof is rain-proof.

January 12, 2015

During a press visit to the large concert hall, Olaf Scholz announces that January 11, 2017, is envisaged as the date for the first concert. The Plaza should be opened in November 2016.

April 14, 2015

Following the elections in February, the new SPD–Green coalition is formed.

April 30, 2015

Projected finishing time for the fitting of the White Skin.

January 31, 2016

Projected finishing time for the large concert hall.

October 31, 2016

Projected transfer to the city.

  1. Sources: B/PUA (2014), Abendblatt (2013),

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Fiedler, J., Schuster, S. (2016). The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. In: Kostka, G., Fiedler, J. (eds) Large Infrastructure Projects in Germany. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-29232-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-29233-5

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)