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Boekman & Sons commercial building and conference centre

In November 1954, the well-known Rotterdam architect Hugh Maaskant designed a four-floor cube-shaped commercial building that aligned with the other structures on Delftsestraat.

Boekman & Sons commercial building and conference centre

The corner building of the Boekman and Klingelnberg-Klauss firms with the Zalencentrum on the upper floors.

Ron Klauss, N.V. Klingelnberg-Klauss

The following buildings were completed in December 1957. The firm L. de Koning completed on Delftsestraat a commercial building designed by architect Hugh Maaskant, which houses Boekman & Sons, wholesalers in glass, porcelain and earthenware, and also a conference centre operated by the firm L.R. van Hecke. Also housed in the building is the machine wholesalers Klingelnberg Klauss.

De Maasstad, 1957-9

Boekman & Sons commercial building and conference centre

Design sketch facade of the Boekman / Klingelnberg-Klauss building.


Various designs were made for the Boekman building on the corner of Delftsestraat and Delftseplein. In November 1954, the well-known Rotterdam architect Hugh Maaskant designed a four-floor cube-shaped commercial building that aligned with the other structures on Delftsestraat. The ground floor was largely blind and contained spaces for deliveries and storage. The planar facade featured strong horizontal lines of breastwork. After this scheme came a design that combined a hotel and restaurant on the third and fourth floor, with showrooms on the ground floor. Completed in February 1955, the definitive design contained not only offices for Boekman and Klingelnberg Klauss but also a conference centre. A screen of precast concrete fins suspended in front of the third floor provided solar shading. The front and lower surfaces of the building were painted white, with the upper surface covered in grey tiles. Apart from that, the facades were simple: a painted concrete skeleton wooden panels and steel frames, and breastwork of opaque black plate glass

Conference centre

The first pile was driven into the ground on 14 August 1956, and the flag was raised on 28 June 1957 when the highest point of construction was reached. Mr. Linde, vice-chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, opened the building on 10 December 1957. Boekman & Sons occupied office space on the first floor and had an entrance on Delftsestraat; Klingelnberg-Klaus had its entrance and a showroom on Delftseplein, and also offices on the first and second floors. The building featured two works of art by Bas van der Smit: ‘Uprooting Machines’ in the sales area and ‘Dock Workers’ in the showroom.

A week later, Alderman Meertens opened the conference centre. The rooms were managed by L.R. van Hecke, a company that ran fourteen restaurants in various parts of the city.

Boekman & Sons commercial building and conference centre

Interior of the Klingelnberg-Klauss company with the wall painting by Bas van der Smit in the background.

Ron Klauss, N.V. Klingelnberg-Klauss

The ‘Centre’, designed by architect Hugh Maaskant, contains three rooms, each of which can accommodate 100 to 150 people and is suitable for various purposes. The rooms are not connected to one another but are separated by wide corridors.

Particular care has been given to the acoustics. Ceilings are finished in acoustic panels also used in radio studios. The ultra-modern sound installation was specially designed for this centre and offers many possibilities. The smallest of the rooms features a small stage.

Het Vrije Volk, 17 December 1957

Telegraph office

The conference centre relocated to Henegouwerlaan in 1965, by which time Boekman had already moved to Amersfoort. The machine business with its showroom and offices remained. The building was then converted into a telegraph office for the state postal and telegraph service. This service was based in the main post office on Coolsingel, but it needed more space as telegraph communication grew. It was a practical location, close to the Railway Post Office. The service’s mopeds and scooters could be stored in the nearby RAC Garage. In August 1966, the state telegraph office relocated overnight, because the telegram service had to continue uninterrupted.

Boekman & Sons commercial building and conference centre

The showroom of the company Klingelnberg-Klauss.

Ron Klauss, N.V. Klingelnberg-Klauss

Internally the building is almost unrecognizable. After substantial demolition work, all that remained were the walls, floors, ceilings and staircase. In the resulting ‘skeleton’, the Government Real Estate Agency created the spaces needed by a telegraph office in a city the size of Rotterdam.

On the ground floor are the public departments, some open day and night, such as the desk for dispatching telegrams and the telephone booths. Also located here is the delivery department.

For the 65 mostly youthful messengers — ‘Too few,’ says director Harteveld, ‘but expansion is difficult’ — there are two cells in which they can dry their clothes. For when delivering the telegrams and express parcels (16,000 and 30,000 per month, respectively) by bike, moped or scooter, they have to brave all weather conditions.

Het Vrije Volk, 18 August 1966


In 1980 the telegraph service moved out of the building, after which it was then rented by various businesses. When proposals for a new Centraal Station and surroundings took shape around 2000, the fate of the building seemed to be sealed. But Will Alsop’s ambitious plans for champagne glasses and a new railway station with high-rise development in the Schiekadeblok were scrapped. Moreover, the envisaged 240,000 square metres of state-of-the-art office space in the Central District never materialized because of the credit crisis. Even a modest first step by property developer LSI to replace the Boekman building with the Intercity Hotel in 2014 flopped. In the meantime, the creative class and café business had discovered this building, and others like it in the area. After espresso bar Lungo, located here until 2015, this attractive venue became a hamburger joint called Burgertrut in 2017.

H.A. Maaskant
Delftsestraat 33, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Central District
Business buildings