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As good as new almost 100 years on
Economics

As good as new almost 100 years on

05.07.2016 From our online archive
Luxembourg's revamped iconic Arbed building in Avenue de la Liberté is to be unveiled on Tuesday afternoon, almost a century after it was built.

(NDP/JB) Luxembourg's revamped iconic Arbed building in Avenue de la Liberté is to be unveiled on Tuesday afternoon, almost a century after it was built.

Looking almost as good as new, the listed building will now be used by national bank the Spuerkeess after steel giant ArcelorMittal decided it was too expensive to maintain and run as a headquarters.

Constructed between 1920 and 1922 on land donated by the state to Arbed, then a Luxembourg-based steel and iron-producing company, the building represents decades of success and economic power within the steel group.

At the beginning of the century, many industrial companies began to set up their headquarters in the capital. This was the case for Arbed which transferred its headquarters from Dudelange to Luxembourg city. Leaders of the group then commissioned the French architect René Théry design the new building. The worked was taken over by Luxembourg architect Sosthene Weis following the premature death of Théry.

The design was inspired mainly by French chatelaine architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For the construction of the headquarters, he used what were new building materials at the time, including steel and reinforced concrete.

The building's future came into question when ArcelorMittal announced it was seeking a buyer in 2012. The decision to sell sparked outrage and consernation in the country where many residents considered it a symbol of Luxembourg's industrial heritage. At the same time suggestions flowed in for things like a luxury hotel, shopping centre or museum.

Their concerns were allayed with the announcement that Spuerkeess would buy the building and foot the bill for its renovation.

According to the firm's annual accounts published in February, the bank paid 97 million euros for the building in November 2014.

The renovated building will be officially inaugurated on Tuesday at 5pm in the presence of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie, as well as the Prime Minister and various other ministers.