27/05/2016: Berlin main railway station – 10 years old

On 28 May 2016, Berlin main railway station celebrates its 10th birthday

Competition 1993 – 1st Prize
Design Meinhard von Gerkan and Jürgen Hillmer
Design team Jens Kalkbrenner, Manfred Stanek
Project managers, long-distance rail Hans-Joachim Glahn, Klaus Hoyer
Project manager, glass roofs Prisca Marschner
Project managers, building slabs Prisca Marschner, Susanne Winter
Project team Christel Timm-Schwarz, Bettina Kreuzheck, Michael Scholz, Petra Kauschus, Monica Sallowsky, Tomomi Arai, Klaus-Dieter Schimpf, Ivan Ivanov, Katrin Junge, Jan Koettgen, Karsten Fritsche, Burkhard Pick, Risteard Mac Diarmada, Silke Petry, Bernd Kottsieper, Dirk Tietgen, Matthias Holtschmidt, Kemal Akay, Andreas Ebner, Frank Anacker, Stefan Both, Henning Raske, Meinhard Rudolph, Jochen Köhn, Dirk Hünerbein, Hubertus Pieper, Vita Römer, Elisabeth Mittelsdorf, Ralph Preuß, Peter Karn, Amra Sternberg, Radmilla Blagovcanin, Ahrend Buchholz-Berger, Hans Münchhalfen, Maike Carlsen, Ivanka Perkovic, Antje Pfeifer
Structural engineering schlaich bergermann und partner; IVZ/Emch+Berger
Lighting design Peter Andres + Conceptlicht GmbH
Mechanical services Ingenieurgesellschaft HöpfnerClient Deutsche Bahn AG represented by DB Projekt Verkehrsbau GmbH
Construction period 1996–2006
Gross floor area 175,000 m² – 5 transportation levels
Site area 100,000 m²

Movie of Architecture
Hans-Georg Esch & Oliver Schwabe

Berlin main railway station? Who still remembers today that, in the past, the mention of this name used to illicit a shrug at best? For more than one hundred years, since the very first beginnings of the railway, Berlin’s decentralized railway network was lacking any kind of “visitor portal”. It was not until the Wall came down and the “renaissance of the railway stations” that the vision of a central point of arrival for rail travelers from all directions became realistic – even though the project initially still started under the traditional name of “Lehrter Bahnhof” (Lehrte railway station).

The fact that the new main railway station was then accepted without hesitation – and very quickly became an integral part of the city and its identity – speaks for itself. Today, ten years after it opened, everybody is perfectly at ease using this name. Everybody associates it with personal impressions, experiences and, not least, an unmistakable architecture. At the former border between East and West, at the interface of the north-south underground and east-west overground railway lines, the main railway station forms a significant urban landmark that is visible from afar. As a symbol of the knitting together of the city, the country, and Europe, it has become the top destination for arrivals and departures, as well as a vivacious urban space.

Its architecture is such a striking symbol of the crossing of main railway lines that today, special mention must be made of the fact that the station building represents a completely new typology without any archetypal model.  The access routes are characterized by clarity of view and orientation; daylight reaches down to the underground part of the station, far below ground, the architectural presence of which becomes evident via the lateral arched tracts.

From an urban design point of view, the new main railway station no less than sparked the development of a new city quarter in the heart of Berlin, which is gradually integrating the railway station into its building fabric. This demonstrates that the architecture functions equally well as part of the close-knit urban fabric as it has done as a freestanding building throughout the first ten years. Even though buildings are gradually rising up around it, the station has retained its symbolic character which, beyond doubt, is that of the main railway station of the capital.

Deutsche Bahn will celebrate the anniversary on 27 and 28 May, organizing a ceremonial event on the second day at which representatives of Deutsche Bahn, the City of Berlin, and the architect of the railway station, Prof. Meinhard von Gerkan, will be present.

Heiner Leiska
Marcus Bredt

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