New York Times criticizes the reconstruction of the palace
On January 1st 2009 the Ney York Times published Michael Kimmelman’s article ”Rebuilding a Palace May Become a Grand Blunder”. Right at the beginning of his article Kimmelman points out: “The saga of the Schloss, a cultural misadventure from the start, captures Berlin in a nutshell, as a city forever missing the point of itself.”
In the course of the long article Kimmelman explains some of the main issues of the project in regard to architecture and programming. He argues: “Did I mention that the original, 18th-century Stadtschloss, by Andreas Schlüter and Johann Friedrich Eosander von Göthe, was a hulking, unlovable pile? Even the emperors didn’t want to live there. Proponents of reconstruction argue a new Schloss would restore an urban complex that includes great buildings by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Berlin’s most important Neoclassical architect. But this makes less than no sense, not least because Berlin decided during the 19th century to construct an appalling wedding cake of a cathedral next to, and all out of proportion with, Schinkel’s landmark Altes Museum, which is across the street from the Schloss.
Sorry, Humboldt Forum. Ingeborg Junge-Reyer, the Berlin senator in charge of urban development, told me the other morning, with a perfectly straight face, “It is decisive that it is called the Humboldt Forum, not the Schloss, because the name Humboldt symbolizes knowledge, openness to other cultures, and to culture, and that fits Germany.” Wilhelm von Humboldt, the great philosopher, educator and friend of Goethe and Schiller, and his brother Alexander von Humboldt, the naturalist, like Schinkel evoke the glory days of Berlin’s Enlightenment. Meanwhile a German official advocating the Schloss got in hot water recently by suggesting that the forum would include studios open to the public for artists from Africa, Asia and other exotic places, bringing to mind the old Hottentot and freak show displays. The official later insisted this wasn’t what he meant.”