Otto Wagner and the Millennium Falcon

The Millennium Falcon. As Han Solo’s ship, it played a crucial role in the victory of The Rebellion over the Empire in the Star Wars films. Imagine my shock when I saw the infamous smuggling vessel in the pages of an architecture book about banks. A quick visit to “Wookieepedia” tells us that prop designer Ralph McQuarrie based the design of the Millennium Falcon on a “half-eaten hamburger next to an olive on a toothpick held by George Lucas.” However, I’m more inclined to believe he was flipping through the pages of an Otto Wagner book and came across his 1880 design for the central offices of the Vienna Giro und Kassenverein competition. Behold, the first and only piece of evidence to support this theory:

On the left, Wagner’s plan and on the right, a line drawing of the Millennium Falcon. Sure, it could just be a coincidence that a prop designer, inspired by a random grouping of hamburger, olives, and George Lucas’s fingers, recreated an unbuilt design by one of the fathers of the Vienna Secession, but the damning evidence that surely proves otherwise is the off-center cockpit (to the right in the Wagner scheme and on the left of the MF). The rounded-off appendage is just too quirky a design anomaly in both schemes — and so similarly located. Whereas the Falcon consists of multiple hidden compartments and complex passages for a network of hacked-together electrical wiring, Wagner’s design consists of a circular lobby leading to a grand processional route that culminates in a semi-circular bank of tellers’ desks and bank offices. The plan’s unique form was a response to the awkward site, and although the proposal did NOT win, Wagner was able to adapt the plan for use at the Landerbank, also in Vienna:

So now two questions remain: 1) What other proto-modern buildings have inspired starship schematics? 2) If Wagner’s bank was built, could it have made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?

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Jimmy Stamp

Jimmy Stamp is a freelance writer, researcher, and recovering architect. He has contributed to The Guardian, Wired, Smithsonian, The Journal of Architectural Education, and many other websites and publications. His first book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale comes out in spring 2016. If you're looking for writer with a penchant for Piranesi and pop culture, or if you just want to say hi, you can find him on twitter @LifeSansBldgs or instagram or email him at

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