An agreement has been concluded providing for the purchase by the Icelandic State of the North Wing of Landsbankinn’s new building, currently under construction at Austurbakki in central Reykjavík. The aim is for the building to house the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and function as a space for the exhibitions and activities of the National Gallery of Iceland. The State has also declared its interest to enter into negotiations for the purchase of Austurstræti 11.
Austurbakki is a modern and flexible office and service building. The North Wing is scheduled for completion in 2023 and will provide space for 700-800 workers.
Austurbakki’s North Wing is a total of 5,900 square metres. In determining the purchase price, the average of solicited valuations was used. The National Treasury pays ISK 4.6 billion based on closing according to the original schedule, which provided that the ground floor and basement area would be handed over ready for furnishings while the office space on floors 2-4 would be fully furnished. The purchase contract stipulates that the Bank will finalise all parts of the building before closing, adding an estimated ISK 1.4 billion to the purchase price for final completion and furnishing of the ground floor and basement, as well as adjustment of the space to the State’s purposes. The purchase price thus comes to a total of around ISK 6 billion.
Lilja Björk Einarsdóttir, CEO of Landsbankinn: “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with the State for its purchase of the North Wing for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as an art and cultural space. Austurbakki is a well-designed and handsome house that harmonises with its surroundings. The activities of the Bank, the Ministry and not least the National Gallery fit well together and will doubtless enrich the entire area. We who work in the Bank are very excited for the move to the new building, from twelve houses in Kvosin and two in Borgartún. It will make a world of difference to finally unite all this activity under one and much smaller roof and the move will increase cost efficiency, stimulate collaboration and help us provide even better service. We are also happy that the State is considering the purchase of Austurstræti 11, as it is important that this historic building get a worthy role in the future.
Landsbankinn in Austurstræti 11 since 1898
Landsbankinn began operating out of Austurstræti 11 in 1898, which was severely damaged in the Great Reykjavík Fire of 1915. The house was rebuilt and the Bank moved back in 1924, after a short stint in Austurstræti 16, which later housed the Reykjavík Pharmacy. Architect Guðjón Samúelsson designed Austurbakki 11, the “Landsbankinn House”, and he considered it to be “beyond doubt the grandest building ever constructed in Iceland”, as noted in a detailed article by Pétur H. Ármannsson, published in Icelandic on Umræðan. Austurstræti 11 is one of twelve buildings currently housing the Bank’s activities in Kvosin.