28/05/2014: Podium event

TXL vs. BER Past and Future of Airport Architecture

Podium event on the occasion of the 14th Architecture Biennale in Venice

Meinhard von Gerkan Founding partner of von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), architect for the Berlin Tegel (TXL) and Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airports

Hartmut Mehdorn Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH

Robert Grosch Former Director of Tegel Airport

Philipp Bouteiller: Managing Director of Tegel Projekt GmbH

Andreas Ruby (Moderator)

The fact that the same architects’ practice has not only designed the old Berlin airport but also, 50 years later, the city’s new airport is pretty incredible in itself. But the circumstances under which von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) designed and built Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) appear truly incredible from today’s perspective. This refers not only to the liberties enjoyed by young architects in those days, but also to the sense of cooperation with which all those with responsibility for the project worked at the time. Tegel Airport became an example worldwide and, in its functionality, was so forward-looking that in 2012 the Berlin Tagesspiegel still referred to it as the “iPhone amongst airports”.

In the spring of 2012 the architectural concept of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) was also unanimously praised. The Sűddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) saw a worthy successor in it and spoke of a “functionally perfect example of this newer type of terminal common all over the world today”. A few weeks later, nobody was talking about it. Again, something incredible happened. Construction problems and delays dominate the headlines to this day. BER has still not been opened. What happened? And to what extent has this to do with what happened in the 50 years between TXL and BER in airport construction? Is it really possible to say that the ultra-complex airports of today are comparable with projects of those times? What is meant by “this newer type of terminal”? Why do architecture and its management diverge so widely today, sometimes to the point of contradiction? What interests are involved today in such a giant project, and what were these interests in former times?

It seems that it is not possible to approach the future of airport construction responsibly without knowing its past. Meinhard von Gerkan, Hartmut Mehdorn, Robert Grosch and Philipp Bouteiller provide reminiscences, assessments and pleas.

7 June 2014, 12.00 hours

Palazzo Michiel, Campo Santi Apostoli, 30124 Venice

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