James Simon Galerie

View from Schlossbrücke, September 2017
View from Schlossbrücke, September 2018
View from Pergamon Museum towards the Humboldt Forum, September 2017

As a continuation of Friedrich August Stüler’s forum architecture, the
James Simon Galerie will serve as the new entrance building for Museum
Island, completing the ensemble between the Kupfergraben arm of the
Spree Canal River and the long south-west façade of the Neues Museum.
South-east of the Pergamon Museum and west of the Neues Museum, the
project is sited on a narrow strip of land where Karl Friedrich
Schinkel’s ‘Neuer Packhof’ administration building stood until 1938.

James Simon Galerie

As a continuation of Friedrich August Stüler’s forum architecture, the James Simon Galerie will serve as the new entrance building for Museum Island, completing the ensemble between the Kupfergraben arm of the Spree Canal River and the long south-west façade of the Neues Museum. South-east of the Pergamon Museum and west of the Neues Museum, the project is sited on a narrow strip of land where Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s ‘Neuer Packhof’ administration building stood until 1938.

The new entrance building, together with the ‘Archaeological Promenade’, forms the backbone of the masterplan that was developed in 1999 and adopted as the basis for all further planning on Museum Island. The promenade creates a single point of access to all museums on the island – with the exception of the Alte Nationalgalerie – and provides ample space for the archaeological collection. Besides creating a new doorway to the island which has considerable gravity and is suitable for welcoming large numbers of visitors, the James Simon Galerie houses all the facilities required by the contemporary museum-goer.

The James Simon Galerie addresses itself to the Lustgarten, the Schlossbrücke (the Palace Bridge), and the Kupfergraben. It will form a physical connection above ground with the Pergamon Museum and be linked with it, along with the Neues Museum, the Altes Museum and the Bode Museum, via the Archaeological Promenade at basement level. Two building volumes sit on top of a plinth level with the risalit base of the Pergamon, coinciding with its main exhibition floor. The second volume steps back into the site, offering a deep view from the Schlossbrücke into the space between the entrance building and the Neues Museum.

The plinth itself reinforces the bank of the Kupfergraben canal with a masonry wall topped with columns of the giant order expressing a classical piano nobile. Large parts of this principal level will be accessible to the public outside opening hours, further extending the public realm inside and outside Museum Island. Slender columns become a leitmotif, not only reminiscent of the famous sketch by Friedrich Wilhelm IV for his ‘cultural acropolis’ but also a continuation of Stüler’s Kolonnadenhof, which embraces and encloses the Neues Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie. This architectural gesture creates a new colonnaded courtyard at the back of the Neues Museum, while the strong vertical rhythm of the upper pavilion finds an echo in the pilasters of the Pergamon Museum.

Three flights of wide steps, set between the extended plinth and the lower colonnade, invite visitors into the building. Arriving at the upper level, visitors enter a generous foyer, with direct level access to the main exhibition floor of the Pergamon Museum. The foyer also encloses the cafeteria and opens out onto a grand terrace that runs the full length of the building. A mezzanine floor beneath the main arrival foyer accommodates the museum shop, a large cloakroom, toilet facilities and lockers, while an auditorium is situated in the basement and the temporary exhibition spaces in the underground level.

The architectural language of the new entrance building reinterprets in a modern way the language used by Schinkel, Stüler and the other architects involved in the creation of Museum Island, expressed as a built topography, with grand staircases and solid plinths, and crowned with urban colonnades. Constructed from reconstituted stone with natural stone and marble aggregates, the gallery is a contemporary addition to the rich polychromatic palette of historic Berlin.

Date:
2007-2018
Gross floor area:
10,900 m²
Client:
Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz represented by Bundesamt für Bauwesen und Raumordnung
Architect:
David Chipperfield Architects Berlin