It is both a beginning and a return. With the inauguration of its new and larger corporate headquarters, Leica Camera is returning to its roots. Wetzlar, in the German state of Hesse, is the birthplace of the Leica camera and the home of Ernst Leitz, the company that went on to become Leica Camera AG.
The plans prepared by the architects, Gruber + Kleine-Kraneburg, have been realised in the construction of an ultra-modern, new complex with a ground plan area of around 27,000 square metres, for the production, administration and customer care divisions of Leica Camera AG and the Leica Akademie. Built to state-of-the-art energy efficiency standards, the new complex accommodates Leica’s around 700 employees in Wetzlar. Openly visible production areas, a Leica experience zone, a Leica Gallery, a store, a photo studio, a restaurant and a coffee house offer a wide range of attractions for visitors, Leica enthusiasts and anyone fascinated by photography.
The Leitz Park celebrates the Leica legend in many ways – be it in exhibitions of photography, the Leica experience or in a look behind the scenes of the production process. Alfred Schopf, chairman of the Executive Board at Leica, explains: „We expect to see ten thousands of visitors every year, many of them from abroad – after all, Frankfurt airport is only 60 kilometres from here.“
In the Leica experience zone, visitors can discover everything about the past and present of the company and the manufacture of optical products made in Germany. Three windows allow guests to see what goes on in the clean rooms in which the lens elements, complete lenses and cameras are made. Individual window panes are set up as touchscreen panels and let visitors interactively access films, photos and detailed information simply by swiping and touching, as on the screen of a smartphone or tablet PC. The top priority in the Leica Store is personalised service. At the same time, customers visiting the Wetzlar Store also have the opportunity to purchase Leica products during their visit.