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Chipperfield unwraps Berlin museum building ahead of summer 2019 opening

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David Chipperfield Architects’ new central entrance to the city’s Museum Island has been officially handed over to the State Museums of Berlin prior to fit-out

The 10,900m² building, known as the James Simon Galerie, is now being fitted out and is due to open to the public in summer 2019. 

The completed block is at the heart of the masterplan developed by the practice in 1999 for the Museum Island. It sits along the Spree Canal in central Berlin next to Chipperfield’s 2010 Stirling Prize-shortlisted restoration of the Neues Museum.

Constructed of natural stone and marble aggregates, the new building sits on a tall masonry plinth above the canal, topped with a colonnade of slim columns in a giant order: a Classical piano nobile riffing off the idea of the island as a ‘cultural acropolis’ as originally envisaged by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in the 19th century.

444 06 d ew 500 copy

444 06 d ew 500 copy

Source: David Chipperfield Architects


At the upper level, a large foyer is entered via three wide flights of steps. The foyer incorporates a café and provides access to the main exhibition floor of the Pergamon Museum, as well as opening out to a terrace running above the Spree. Below, a mezzanine floor accommodates a shop, WCs and cloakrooms, while in the basement there is an auditorium with around 300 seats and exhibition galleries linking through to the Neues Museum, the Altes Museum and the Bode Museum, via an ’Archaeological Promenade’.

Architects view

The James Simon Galerie is both a building and place. While its presence can be justified by the functions and facilities it provides for the museological programme, its purpose is to reorganise urban relations and accessibility within the Museum Island. Its role is not so much defined by its function but rather by its responsibility as a public building at the heart of the city.

David Chipperfield, founder, David Chipperfield Architects

The James Simon Galerie celebrates the accessibility of the museums and the treasures they hold. It extends the public urban realm into the heart of the Museum Island, inviting passers-by to take a stroll and generating a new spatial relationship between the museums and the city. With colonnades, grand staircases and built topography, the new architecture adopts well-established themes of the Museum Island.

Alexander Schwarz, partner and design director, David Chipperfield Architects Berlin

444 06 d p1 s 500 copy

444 06 d p1 s 500 copy

Upper level / terrace level plan

Project data

Start on site 2009
Completion/opening December 2018 / Summer 2019
Gross internal floor area 10,900m²
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect David Chipperfield Architects Berlin
Executive architect Wenzel + Wenzel Freie Architekten, Berlin
Client Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage / State Museums of Berlin
Structural engineer IGB Ingenieurgruppe Bauen, Berlin
M&E consultant INNIUS DÖ, Berlin / Inros Lackner AG, Rostock
Building physics Müller-BBM, Berlin
Quantity surveyor Christine Kappei, Stuttgart
Landscape consultant Levin Monsigny Landschaftsarchitekten, Berlin
Fire consultant Arge Brandschutz NEG, Berlin
Lighting consultant matí AG, Adliswil
Lighting design Conceptlicht, Traunreut (outdoor lighting)
Project manager Christoph-Phillip Krinn

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