Cubism and Metropolitan Living: Hines Selects Gehry Partners For Berlin Tower

2 Posted by - May 5, 2014 - Architecture, Europe, Urbanism
Frank Gehry Berlin Tower

Designed as a cluster of distorted, cream-colored cuboids, the tower’s simultaneous perspective is reminiscent of the artwork of Braque. Photo courtesy of Gehry Partners.

Gehry Partners has been selected over nine shortlisted architecture firms to design a 300-unit, 150-meter residential tower for international real estate firm Hines. The skyscraper is set to become the tallest building in Berlin, Germany. The proposed site for the new tower is between Hackescher Markt, Friedrichshain and Berlin-Mitte, next to Hines’ recently developed Die Mitte retail building in the Alexanderplatz district.

“Gehry’s design is strong in visual expression and introduces an unusually eccentric, new pattern for this location,” said Regula Luscher, director of the Berlin’s urban development department and one of the competition judges. This is Gehry’s third project with Hines. The pair collaborated on the DZ Bank in Berlin (1999) and the New World Center in Miami Beach Florida (2011). The 150-meter high-rise will be Berlin’s first new residential tower since the 1970s.

Gehry Partners was in competition with national and international architecture firms, including Barkow Leibinger Architects, Ingenhoven Architects and Kleihues + Kleihues, all of who succeeded in making it to the second and final phase of the competition. On January 23rd, the jury concluded that Gehry’s proposal was “the most compelling.”

Designed as a cluster of distorted, cream-colored cuboids, the tower’s simultaneous perspective is reminiscent of the artwork of Braque. The sculptural, stone-clad cubes are rotated away from one another to relate to some of the city’s main focal points, particularly the nearby Karl-Marx-Allee. The tower’s top floors rotate, and there are four connected structures around the building’s axis which gives the overall design a cubist, cloverleaf appearance. According to Regula Luscher, “the design blends well with the neighborhood and conveys all aspects of metropolitan living.”

Construction on the tower is scheduled to begin in 2015. It’s expected to cost between 200 and 250 million euro ($270 million to $340 million). Currently, the Colonia Tower is the tallest residential skyscraper in Germany; it stands at 460 feet. Gehry’s Berlin project is slated to reach a maximum of 492 feet, not only making the 39-story structure the tallest building in Berlin, but also the tallest residential tower in the country. The 500,000 square foot development will include 300 apartments, a restaurant, hotel, spa, and top-floor penthouses. The building is expected to be complete in 2017.

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Construction on the tower is scheduled to begin in 2015. Photo courtesy of Gehry Partners.

From the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, in Spain, to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, Gehry’s brand of Deconstructivist architecture is one of the most popular and globally recognizable. Gehry creates more than just buildings; he creates tourist attractions. The residential tower is part of a greater revitilization effort that includes 20 more buildings either scheduled or under construction in the former eastern sector of Berlin, which is surrounded by Soviet-style architecture. Berlin politicians hope Gehry’s residential tower will have a positive and lasting impact on the neighborhood, boosting both tourism and additional projects, emulating “the Bilbao effect” that occurred with the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

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