Beisheim Center

Background

BEISHEIM CENTER

Top-class buildings by internationally renowned architectural firms such as Hilmer & Sattler und Albrecht, David Chipperfield, Modersohn & Freiesleben, and Bernd Albers shaped the ensemble built around Inge-Beisheim-Platz between 2000 and 2004. In terms of urban planning, it links the bustling Potsdamer Platz to the south with the idyllic Tiergarten Park to the north.

ARCHITECTURAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE BEISHEIM CENTER
<p>Standing in the middle of the complex is the Beisheim Center, a ten-story office building designed by architectural firm <a href="https://www.h-s-a.de/">Hilmer &amp; Sattler und Albrecht</a>. The arrangement of the facades made of yellow sandstone creates a harmonious balance between horizontal and vertical elements. It was inspired by the First Leiter building in Chicago, one of the first high-rise office buildings ever created after being designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1879. The Beisheim Center is a reminder of the optimistic spirit embraced by the Chicago School as it revolutionised high-rise architecture at the end of the 19th century thanks to technical inventions such as reinforced concrete construction and lifts. Berlin at the beginning of the 21st century stands for the same spirit of adventure and discovery.</p><p><a class="link" href="/en/living/the-ritz-carlton" data-resource="5f8cec42-f433-4989-80ab-a7751bdc8d8a">The Ritz Carlton</a>, meanwhile, also designed by <a href="https://www.h-s-a.de/">Hilmer &amp; Sattler und Albrecht</a>, can be understood as a modern interpretation of art deco and a homage to the Roaring Twenties. A tower with 19 floors dominates Potsdamer Platz, the vertical dimensions of which are cleverly increased by the facade design. A particularly elegant feature is the artistically decorated main entrance, which extends over two floors. The building gradually steps down towards the north, fitting in to the architecture of the Beisheim Center at 35 metres.</p>
<p>The ten-story&nbsp;<a class="link" href="/en/living/parkside-apartments" data-resource="816fcf4e-3eb1-44f7-aec4-eff9a096a1cf">Parkside Apartments</a>&nbsp;designed by <a href="https://davidchipperfield.com/">David Chipperfield Architects</a> are located in the north-west area of the site, bordering on Henriette-Hertz-Platz and Tiergarten. The bright shell limestone cladding ties in with the tradition of ‘Stone Berlin’, a term coined by Werner Hegemann, an architecture critic and passionate social democrat who lived during the Weimar Republic. Using a range of strategies, Chipperfield succeeds in creating a contemporary interpretation of architectural heritage in what might be dubbed a ‘critical reconstruction’. The block is divided into two unequal halves, while full-length windows and balconies are placed asymmetrically around the facades and the corners of the building are rounded.</p><p>Designed by <a href="https://mofrei.de/">Modersohn &amp; Freiesleben</a>, the office building also fits into the complex with historical references. The classic three-part facade features an outstanding roof overhang and is clad with slightly green Verde Savana granite. The window array and entrance door, flanked by strictly symmetrical display windows on the semi-basement floor, give the building a certain rigidity that is then counteracted by playful details such as the window parapets. The floral ornamentation used here can be traced back to drawings by Louis Sullivan, another pioneer of high-rise architecture in Chicago. He is famous not least for the saying ‘form follows function’ – an idea that would later be taken up by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and become a maxim of the Bauhaus movement.</p><p>Bernd Albers designed the 11-storey&nbsp;<a class="link" href="/en/living/marriott-hotel" data-resource="89878887-4284-4f2e-9643-7741573b83c1">Marriott Hotel</a>&nbsp;with a U-shaped floor plan. Profiled pilasters punctuate the facades in light Portuguese sandstone, making them appear to move slightly. The entrance is located in a part of the building that is slightly set back in the south-west, creating a harmonious opening to Inge-Beisheim-Platz and the fountain containing a curved metal sculpture of a phoenix by artist Gidon Graetz. Inside, the hotel rooms are grouped around an impressive atrium that is 35 metres high with a rooflight.</p>
Fact 1
<p>The facade of the Beisheim Center was inspired by the First Leiter building in Chicago. Designed by William Le Baron Jenney in 1879, this was one of the world’s first high-rise office buildings.<br></p>
Fact 2
<p>A famous painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner shows Potsdamer Platz at the beginning of the 20th century. It depicts the square in a vibrant midnight scene, bathed in expressive colours – the epitome of glamorous chic. </p>
BERLIN, POTSDAMER PLATZ. A PLACE STEEPED IN HISTORY
<p>Today, Potsdamer Platz is home to international companies and an important financial center as well as one of the most prestigious shopping destinations in the city. It is an appealing attraction in its own right with a diverse range of restaurants and leisure activities. At the Berlin International Film Festival each year, celebrities from the global film industry stream into the area and show how glamorous the capital can be. With the Philharmonic Concert Hall, Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery), Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) and Gropius Bau, a number of the world’s most important cultural institutions can be found in the immediate vicinity. However, the square itself is also one of the most popular visitor attractions in Berlin given its long history of ups and downs – a pattern that typifies the city as a whole.</p><p>Potsdamer Platz was created in 1734 when Friedrichstadt became part of Berlin. Toward the end of the 19th century, it developed into a vibrant centre of the German Empire’s new capital. In 1885, the first grand hotel on Potsdamer Platz opened its doors: Hotel Bellevue, a city palace in the Renaissance Revival style. In addition to luxurious hotels, the elegant Wertheim department store began to welcome a wealthy clientele close within sight on Leipziger Platz in 1896. It was not long before Potsdamer Platz became the epitome of sophisticated chic throughout Europe.</p>
<p>Expressionist painters and writers as well as proponents of New Objectivity were also captivated by the technical modernity and almost breathless momentum of one of Europe’s busiest squares at the time, to say nothing of the temptations of the night. The legendary meeting point of the scene was Café Josty, which was immortalised in the writing and poetry of Erich Kästner and Paul Boldt, among others. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, an expressionist painter and member of the artistic group Die Brücke, brilliantly conveyed the spirit of the times in his famous painting ‘Potsdamer Platz’, which dates back to 1914. This work depicts the square in a vibrant midnight scene, bathed in expressive colours.</p><p>After the First World War, the world continued to turn at full pace on Potsdamer Platz. During the day, businessmen and workers flooded into office blocks equipped with modern amenities, such as the avant-garde Columbushaus designed by Erich Mendelsohn. At night, pleasure seekers met in Haus Vaterland, a notorious temple of entertainment with restaurants, bars, a ballroom, a cinema and space for variety shows. Its bright lights lit up Potsdamer Platz.</p><p>The reign of the National Socialists signified a fatal break in activities on Potsdamer Platz, as in many other places. The Wertheim department store, classified as ‘Jewish’, was expropriated in 1937 and large parts of the buildings were destroyed during Allied air raids in 1943–44. After the liberation of Berlin, the square lay in the border area between the American, British and Soviet sectors for more than four decades. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 transformed the site into a heavily fortified no man’s land between West and East Berlin, and the remaining buildings were demolished. Perhaps the most sensitive portrayal of this unfulfilled emptiness can be seen in the award-winning classic film ‘Wings of Desire’, directed by Wim Wenders.</p><p>The decision to establish ambitious goals for Potsdamer Platz with the Beisheim Center was sparked by German reunification and the choice of Berlin as the new capital. Senate Building Director Hans Stimmann advocated a design following the principles of ‘critical reconstruction’. The urban master plan by architect Richard Rogers ultimately pursued the concept of ‘a high-rise city for the 21st century’ that was intended to offer both residents and visitors a high-quality stay with public spaces. Construction of the Beisheim Center began in 2000, and the complex was opened just five years later.</p>