IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG

IKB Deutsche Industriebank's block long by block wide building makes me think I've mistakenly come across a new government building housing important officials. The massive fortress-style, seven story building located four miles Dusseldorf's city center has "importance" written all over it. Actually the building wouldn't look so fortress-like if there was open space (grass, trees or basically anything) between the building and the public sidewalk. It overwhelms the site. It's not until one enters the opening in the building and comes upon the huge open courtyard that you realize why the building's exterior is flush with the public sidewalks. A large water sculpture is the focus point of the courtyard.

Unlike the fortress-like exterior, the interior wall, which looks out onto the huge courtyard, is all glass and very modernistic looking. Matter of fact, one can look into the building and marvel at the four see-through glass elevators going up and down who's outlines are lit by strings of blue lights.

When entering the building one has to explain himself to the security guard before being allowed to walk over to the receptionist desk. While waiting for the receptionist to find out whose my contact person I take a seat on one of the four large Day-Glo blue sofas.

Minutes later I'm greeted by Jorg Chittka, Investor Relations and Press. Though they can't see to find my introductory material sent a month earlier, it's no problem here as the very accommodating Chittka ends up giving me a great reception and tour of the facility. What's even more impressive is Chittka's flexibility. I arrived at 3 PM and it wasn't until the end of our meeting when asking about work hours that Chittka mentions in passing that he was suppose to have left at 3PM to start a two week vacation.

Built in 1997, about 600 out of the company's total of 1,100 employees work here. However, the bank occupies only 2/3rds of the building. Arthur Andersen and Colt Telecom occupy a section across the courtyard. Founded in 1924 and publicly traded since 1955, the bank specializes in providing banking services to medium-sized German and European industrial and commercial companies. Revenues last year were $2.7 billion.

It's about 50 feet to the nearest freeway, five minutes by car to the airport and a 10 minute streetcar ride to the city center. Meeting rooms are named after cities, guest dining rooms are named after German states, surprisingly there're no showers or fitness facilities, plenty of covered parking for employees and the company's art collection is comprised of works by young Dusseldorf artists. Any employees perks such as cheap loans? No.

Though big and broad, the building isn't very tall (seven stories) which affords CEO Alexander von Tippelskirch an unexciting view of the neighborhood. I count two family photos, no plants and note the stand up desk in his office.