Berlin, Hauptbahnhof

In 2003 I spent three months in Berlin, happily ensconsed at the American Academy on the Wannsee. One of the great pleasures of the city was the excellent train service which wooshed us most efficiently from the Wannsee into the center of town in fifteen comfortable minutes. One of the views the train would race through was an old railway station in full reconstruction. It was an amazing site, half under water, with brilliant steel & glass architecture emerging from that near-scary deep gropundwater in which workers would be at their job dressed as frogmen. This was to become the new Hauptbahnhof, or Main Station. Already then there was some controversy concerning the price of the thing. The station is all built now, though in order to cut (tight financial) corners, the German Railway corporation altered, simplified, or disfigured the architect’s original plans. The architect sued, and, interestingly enough has now won a victory for “intellectual property” — though in this case I would rather talk of “artististic integrity.” Here’s the opening of a sign&sight piece on the affair. Wish I could spend more time in Berlin, absolutely the most livable & exciting of the European capitals. More details on the Hauptbahnhof can be found here. Read the rest here.

The bellyache of an architect

The Berlin District Court has ruled that Deutsche Bahn must rebuild whole sections of the new Hauptbahnhof according to the architect’s plans, setting a spectacular precedent. By Andreas Zielcke

Berlin’s new main train station, the Hauptbahnhof, cuts a solitary figure in the surrounding wasteland as it awaits an urban development that will complement its ambition, aesthetics and vast dimensions. But the verdict pronounced by the Berlin District Court on Tuesday November 28 has brutally nipped this development process in the bud. The judges ruled that the German rail company Deutsche Bahn has unlawfully violated the intellectual property rights of the station’s architect, Meinhard von Gerkan. The rail company must rebuild the station according to the architect’s plans. The station opened in May this year after a 13-year construction period.
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