James Simon Gallery Unveiled

Classicism in Two Times


The always restrained and generally judicious British architect David Chipperfield has in Berlin just completed the James Simon Gallery, which serves as a gateway into the German capital’s famous Museum Island. Embedded into one of the walls of the Spree River canal, the new building is certainly the most contemporary construction in the whole complex, although it does allude to classicism through its elegant and slender columns, its powerful plinth, and its cladding of immaculate white marble.

It is with this piece of architecture that Chipperfield wraps up his painstaking and in severalways exemplary process of restoring and renovating the cultural acropolis that was built under the auspices of Friedrich Wilhelm iv of Prussia, and which was partly destroyed during World War ii; a process that began with the 1993 call for an international competition to revamp the Neues Museum.

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