An icon revisited. Neue Nationalgalerie open again after its renovation

In topic: Architecture

The renovation of Mies Van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin is completed by David Chipperfield Architects. The architectural icon opens to the public again.

Neue Nationalgalerie opened in 1968. Mies van der Rohe has divided its plan into two distinct stories. The upper story houses the entrance hall and the primary special exhibit gallery, while the lower story is home to the gallery’s permanent collection, a library, offices, a shop and a cafe. Though smaller in size, the upper story is undoubtedly the gallery’s primary architectural element with its roof seemingly “floating” 8,4 meters above the floor. Neue Nationalgalerie is Van der Rohe’s only project in Europe after he emigrated to the USA and remains an iconic example of twentieth-century architecture..

A surgical intervention

The building’s renovation started in 2012 and after 9 years of works is has finally come to an end. Everything is already in place and the museum will reopen this August. The restoration left the building’s character untouched. It focused on refurbishing ageing concrete structures, modernizing its services and restoring the glass exterior. A “surgical” intervention as described by David Chipperfield himself. The architect noted that “taking apart a building of such unquestionable authority has been a strange experience but also a privilege”

The works

Maximizing storage spaces in the lower level and improving its energy performance by updating the building’s air-conditioning and lighting infrastructure were top priorities for the team of architects. Of course making the museum accessible to everybody by adding a ramp, was also among the major key points of the restoration done by David Chipperfield Architects.

Repair & Restore with respect

In cases of architectural icons being restorated, an architect cannot do anything else, but try to bring back the psyche of the icon. As David Chipperfield did for Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, or as Tadao Ando did for Bourse de Commerce in Paris. Protecting and showcasing the vision of the icon’s creator and its architecture is the main task an architect has to keep in mind during the planning stage and execution of a building renovation.

15 / 09 / 2021