Magazine article The New Yorker

Das Big Haus

Magazine article The New Yorker

Das Big Haus

Article excerpt

The new chancellery in Berlin is both bombastic and giddy. It has swoops and curves and a kind of retro-modern elan, combining the gargantuan sleekness of nineteen-sixties American architecture with surrealistic touches like trees on top of columns, as if the Albany Mall had been redone by Philippe Starck. The building houses the offices of the executive branch of the German government and includes a topfloor apartment for the chancellor. It is eight times as large as the White House, and is surely the most ambitious piece of new architecture in the capital. (The glass-domed Reichstag, by Norman Foster, is a renovation of a nineteenth-century building.) The chancellery architects, Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, won a competition for the commission in 1995. The other finalist, the architectural firm Kruger-Schuberth-Vandreike, had proposed a more formal, colonnaded building that reminded many people of the deadening classicism of Albert Speer. …

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