A huge glass building
Probably the most famous building in Munich in the 19th century and early 20th century was the Glass Palace. This was a huge glass building with an iron supporting structure. Rather unusual for the time! The palace was the first example of a new architectural style in the dawning age of technology. MAN accepted the challenge of this project.
A short construction time – not a problem for MAN
This unprecedented building was built in just nine months, after being commissioned by King Maximilian II in 1853. He wanted to put on a "Domestic Customs Union Exhibition" in Munich. However, there was no building in the entire city that was suitable for this, so a decision was taken to construct a new building. This was to be built at the "botanical gardens". Today, the location is between Sophienstraße and Elisenstraße, close to the main train station.
Glass and iron
Due to the short construction time, a decision was taken to make a structure from glass and iron, which was designed by the Royal building officer August Voit. This was based on the Crystal Palace in London which had also been built in a very short period of time. The building was 800 feet long (234 metres) with a maximum width of 280 feet (84 metres).
A planning challenge
In August 1853, the company Cramer-Klett from Nuremberg (one of our predecessor companies) signed a contract for the construction of this "palace" with the threat of a high contractual penalty should the building not be ready by 8 June 1854. The director of Cramer, Ludwig Werder, who was highly motivated at the time accepted the challenge. This amazing feat was only possible because Werder thought out the execution of the building work in the minutest detail and drafted precise construction drawings. Hi idea to use prefabricated and structurally identical sections made from cast iron, wrought iron and oak, which could be bolted together, really saved time. It was these supporting pillars, trusses and bars, as well as façade elements which give the palace its intriguing finesse and architectural style.
In total, 27,151 centners (1,350 tonnes) of cast iron and 3,135 centners (157 tonnes) of wrought iron were used. The outer shell of the building consisted of 19,150 square metres of glass. The total construction cost was 887,000 guilders, which corresponds to approximately 170 million euros today.
A magnificent building is inaugurated
At the end of May 1854, during a personal visit to the Ministry, Klett announced that the exhibition building could be handed over on 8 June in accordance with the contract. On 15 July, the Glass Palace was opened by King Max. II. There were celebrations attended by 90,000 residents and thousands of guests, and at the same time, the exhibition "First General German Industry Exhibition" was opened. The visitors were amazed and delighted by this modern, imposing and elaborate building, which would subsequently be used for major events. On the same day, Max. II personally congratulated Cramer Klett on this outstanding achievement by awarding the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown.
From then on, many visitors came every summer from all over the world in order to visit the international art exhibitions held there.
The building which was unique in Germany at the time did not just make the Nuremberg factory – the present-day MAN Nuremberg plant – famous around the world, it also signified a glorious chapter for the whole of German industry.
End of the Glass Palace
The Glass Palace met a tragic end on 6 June 1931 when it was completely burned to the ground in a major fire. The cause of the fire was never identified. Along with the building, precious pieces of art which were exhibited there were also destroyed. Today, only a plaque at the beginning of the "old botanical gardens" marks the location of probably the most famous building in Munich.