Berlin / New York (dpa) – David Chipperfield hasn’t even seen his latest masterpiece.
While experts and first-time visitors alike are already looking for new words to express their excitement, the British star architect will only take a peek at the newly renovated Neue Nationalgalerie this opening weekend, due to the crown .
For five years, he and his team have restored the iconic building of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) to its deliberately old state using state-of-the-art means. The next order from Germany is already waiting for him. Chipperfield comes out of his drowsiness the old Goethe House, representative palace of Manhattan, for 20 million euros for the Foreign Office.
In New York, too, Chipperfield once again wants to pay attention to historical substance. “We always try not to just pursue a formal idea. Design is not an end in itself. Design is a tool that makes things possible, ”says Chipperfield of the German press agency in Berlin. “In the case of the Neue Nationalgalerie, the goal was not to bring Chipperfield’s signature into the project, but rather to give the building back to itself.” It’s the same in New York. “We don’t want to do an architectural project with beautiful rooms, facades or anything like that. It is about developing the possibilities of the good with the existing building and its objectives, which are important for the two to come together better. “
The six-story Beaux-Arts-style building with a light gray facade and a green copper roof stands on Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, opposite the Metropolitan Museum. The Federal Republic of Germany bought it in 1955 from James Gerard, former US Ambassador to Germany. The prestigious building in a prime location on the Upper East Side has long served as the headquarters of the Goethe Institute in New York. It is currently a “Place for Ideas” under the name “1014”, based on the house number on 5th Avenue.
After the Goethe-Institut moved to lower Manhattan, it lacked convincing concepts. High maintenance costs and German fire protection regulations made the building, which was barely used for a long time, “Germany’s most expensive haunted castle”.
From now on, a transatlantic meeting center will emerge. Here, everyone from then-Chancellor Willy Brandt to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shook hands. The Federal Foreign Office wants to build on this and involve other transatlantic actors in New York.
“We need more and more opportunities for structured dialogues on topics that are important to us today. It has never been more necessary than it is now, ”says Chipperfield. “An institution like this, organized to discuss ideas that have something to do with the way we live, the problems we face, is a fantastic concept.”
In the future, fellows and researchers should live and work in a place that also serves as a meeting and event venue. “Finding yourself in a house used by scientists and occupied intellectually is much more fascinating than, say, any room in a museum.” Chipperfield speaks of a “place of ideas”.
Depending on the design, the different activities of the house overlap. “It would be a shame if you walked into the building for a reception or a reading and didn’t notice there were fellows living there,” says Chipperfield. “To achieve this, we have designed the building to be as open and user-friendly as possible and have greatly reduced the number of institutional facilities.” The place shouldn’t be too formal. “We have created a number of slightly more complex rooms, not just work areas and conference rooms, but areas of the building where different levels of privacy or publicity can be created.”
For this purpose, the building has a visible center. “With a living room that spans two floors, we try to create a place where the public and private world can meet.” According to Chipperfield, residents can then invite visitors here at any time. “This space opens up to the most informal opportunities, it is supposed to build a kind of bridge between more institutional events and less formal activities.”
It continues outside. “With the garden redesign, we want to create the situation of a typical New York townhouse: if you walk out the back door, you enter a very beautiful garden,” says Chipperfield, outlining the plans. “We have created areas where people can meet in a relaxed manner rather than just being at an event at a certain time and then returning home.”
Chipperfield has already done a lot in Berlin and New York. How are the two cities different? “In a way, there are perhaps no more distinctive buildings in New York than in Berlin”, explains the architect. “On the other hand, the whole city is an architecture festival. New York is an architectural monument in itself, the concept of the city in its ultimate dimension. “