Weesperplein 8
Alexander Bodon
Bank voor Onroerende Zaken N.V.
Tram 6-7-10-20; metro 51-53-54
Kloos, M., Alexander Bodon, Architect, Uitgeverij 010, Rotterdam 1990.

Office building with facilities in the base

In the sixties, Weesperstraat was widened in order to make the city centre more easily accessible for motor traffic. Large-scale office development was to give the city a new economic impetus. Weesperstaete, on the corner of Weesperplein and Sarphatistraat, was one of the last of these large buildings to be built.

Originally, the intention had been to lease the building as office space. However, even before its completion the entire building was leased to the University of Amsterdam, which was experiencing a period of unprecedented growth. It housed the university’s Psychological Laboratory. The building stands behind the historical building line because the intention had been to widen Sarphatistraat into an urban arterial road.

Weesperstaete was inspired by the American metropolitan architecture advocated after the Second World War by architects such as Mies van der Rohe and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. It is a landmark, which presents itself to the surrounding area with its clearly organized black glazed curtain walls. At the same time, the building fits in well with the urban design concept of wide thoroughfares. Weesperstaete has a concrete frame with black curtain walls and spandrel panels of dark anti-sun glass. This gives the building a certain closed quality, which soon earned it the nickname ‘de Doodskist’ (the coffin). At the foot of the building, near the metro entrance, are public-orientated functions. For this reason, the building is also sometimes compared to a plaza on Manhattan: uncompromising high-rise, with a vibrant public space at ground level in which shops are combined with a metro entrance. (ARCAM/JEA/JW)