Federal Chancellery (Berlin)
|Federal Chancellery Complex|
|Address||1 Willi Brandt Avenue|
|Town or city||Berlin|
|Current tenants||Angela Merkel, |
Chancellor of Germany
|Construction started||February 4, 1997|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank|
The Federal Chancellery (German: Bundeskanzleramt) in Berlin is the official seat and residence of the Chancellor of Germany as well as their executive office, the German Chancellery. As part of the move of the German Federal Government from Bonn to Berlin, the office moved into the new building planned by the architects Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank. The building, which is the largest government headquarters in the world, is part of the ″Federal Belt″ (Band des Bundes) called assembly in the Spreebogen, Willy-Brandt-Straße 1, 10557 Berlin.
When the North German Confederation became the German Empire in 1871, the Confederation's Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery) was renamed to Reichskanzleramt (Reich Chancellery or Imperial Chancellery). It originally had its seat in the Radziwiłł Palace (also known as Reichskanzlerpalais), built by Prince Antoni Radziwiłł on Wilhelmstraße 77 in Berlin. More and more imperial offices were separated from the Reichskanzleramt, e.g. the Reichsjustizamt (Office for National Justice) in 1877. What remained of the Reichskanzleramt became in 1879 the Reichsamt des Innern (the home office).
In 1878, Imperial Chancellor Bismarck created a new office for the chancellor's affairs, the Reichskanzlei. It kept its name over the years, also in the republic since 1919. In 1938–39, the building Neue Reichskanzlei (New Reich Chancellery), designed by Albert Speer, was built; its main entrance was located at Voßstraße 6, while the building occupied the entire northern side of the street. It was damaged during World War II and later demolished by Soviet occupation forces.
In 1949, the Federal Republic was created. Bonn was made the provisional capital. Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer used the Museum Koenig for the first two months and then moved the Bundeskanzleramt into Palais Schaumburg until a new Chancellery building was completed in 1976. The new West German Chancellery building was a black structure completed in the International Style, in an unassuming example of modernism. A separate building Kanzlerbungalow served as private residence of the Chancellor and his family 1964-1999.
Nearly ten years after the German reunification in 1990, in the summer of 1999, most of the German government moved to Berlin. The Chancellery was temporarily housed in the former GDR State Council building (Staatsratsgebäude) as the new Chancellery building was not yet finished at the time.
The spectacular as well as controversial monumental building ensemble of the new Federal Chancellery was designed by the Berlin architects Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank by a joint venture of Royal BAM Group's subsidiary Wayss & Freytag and the Spanish Acciona, during the term of Chancellor Helmut Kohl. After the groundbreaking ceremony on February 4, 1997 and almost four years of construction, the building was populated on 2 May 2001 by then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, whereby the government move to Berlin was completed. The cultivated land is with helipad and chancellery park around 73,000 m².
With a height of 36 meters, the building surpasses Berlin eaves height of 22 meters and is the largest government headquarter in the world. It is about eight times the size of the White House in Washington, to which, however, other buildings belong. The most important characteristics of the building ensemble are:
- Gross floor area 64,413 m²
- Gross volume 283.646 m³
- Usable area 25,347 m²
- Main usable area approx. 19,000 m²
The building features a modern, largely glazed exterior and was constructed in an essentially postmodern style, though some elements of modernist style are evident. The design went through three versions between 1995 and 1997. Extensively used colors have their own, precisely defined symbolic effects. On the honorary court, which is formed by the line construction and the two office wings, there are the Berlin sculpture of the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida and four columns each with tree planting, flagpoles and in front of the main entrance a spanning tent roof. The court of honor is mainly used to receive guests.
In the line construction, flanked by two office wings, there are nine levels:
- Ground floor: Foyer with a large staircase for photo sessions with guests.
- 1st floor: International conference room with 32 seats, interpreter booths and control rooms. Press briefing room with stage, seating for 200 journalists.
- 2nd and 3rd floor: technical and functional rooms (kitchen, wine cellar, flower fridge, etc.)
- 4th floor: "secret floor" with tap-proof room for the crisis staff, planning center and archive.
- 5th floor: Large banquet hall for receptions and banquets. Loggias to the east and west. Office of the Minister of State.
- 6th floor: Small Cabinet Hall with interpreter booths and Large Cabinet Hall. Both rooms are the same size. Office of the Minister of State.
- 7th floor: Office of the Federal Chancellor with windows towards the Reichstag building and Brandenburg Gate, and Office of the chancellery chief.
- Between 7th and 8th floor: "Skylobby".
- 8th floor: A semi official Chancellor apartment, integrated kitchen and bedroom in the south. The 200 square meter two-room flat has thus far only been occupied by Gerhard Schröder; current Chancellor Angela Merkel prefers to live in her private apartment in Berlin. Office of the Minister of Culture in the north.
In the wings there are 300 offices of 20 m² each and 13 winter gardens. In the southern office wing there is a canteen. In the northern office wing is the press and staff entrance next to the separate main police station. Beyond the Spree in the Chancellery Park to the west there is a helipad. The park is accessible via the Kanzleramtssteg, a double-storey bridge, for pedestrians and vehicles. In addition to the possibility of electronic communication, there is also a pneumatic tube system for filing documents.
Visitor groups are admitted, albeit under extremely high security standards (entrance control as at the airport, passport control, previously prepared lists of names, attendance of each group of visitors by BKA officials).
Art in the Chancellery
The Chancellery complex is not only home to important works of classical modernism, but also works by contemporary German and international artists.
The main work in the chancellery is the monumental iron sculpture Berlin by the Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida. The 5.5-meter-high and 87.5-ton sculpture, with its two almost touching arms, evokes associations such as rapprochement, division and unification, which can be understood as intended political symbolism. The sculpture occupies a similar position as Henry Moore's Large Two Forms of the Bonn Chancellery and is of similar symbolism.
The inner entrance area was artistically shaped by the painter Markus Lüpertz, who transformed the central staircase into six different "color spaces" whose colors are to symbolize certain classical virtues: blue (wisdom), umbra (as lion's color for power and strength), red (valor ), Ocher-gold (justice) and green / white (wisdom). In addition, Lüpertz created the sculpture The Philosopher as the epitome of thoughtful people, which is also located in the entrance area. Another large sculpture in the interior can be called the Great White Heading of the artist Rainer Kriester.
On the first floor is the gallery of the former Federal Chancellor. Helmut Schmidt had the idea of a portrait series in 1976. The former Chancellors then chose a portrait, which was then purchased by the Chancellery:
Konrad Adenauer was painted by Hans Jürgen Kallmann in 1963. Another portrait of Adenauer by Oskar Kokoschka is in the office of Angela Merkel. Ludwig Erhard and Kurt Georg Kiesinger portrayed by Günter Rittner in the years 1974 and 1976.
Willy Brandt was originally portrayed by Georg Meistermann. Meistermann's picture represents a 'critical form' of the representative portrait, but reveals virtually no visible relation to the person and meaning of Brandt. The later Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, therefore, had the image removed from the Chancellery gallery, and Helmut Kohl replaced it with a realistic painted portrait Brandts of the Düsseldorf painter Oswald Petersen.
Helmut Schmidt decided to let former East German artist Bernhard Heisig, who represented him in 1986. Helmut Kohl had himself painted by a student of Bernhard Heisig, Albrecht Gehse. Gerhard Schröder opted for a painting by Jörg Immendorff.
According to what local tourist guides like to tell their clientele, the people of Berlin's habit of applying nicknames to virtually everything did not stop at the new chancellery.
Favourite expressions seem to be "Elephant loo" and "Kohlosseum" (a pun on its initial 'principal', Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the perceived excessive dimensions of this compound - in particular, when compared with what Germans were used to for decades from the way more low-key Bonn).
"(Federal or Chancellor's) Laundry machine" (picking up the main building's nearly cubic shape, combined with that of the windows in its facade), however, can also be heard from Berliners on occasion.
- Ernst Rudolf Huber: Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte seit 1789. Vol. III: Bismarck und das Reich. 3rd edition, Stuttgart 1988, p. 835.
- Structurae database
- Marie Luise Birkholz (2015). Zu einem gestalterischen Aspekt des Ehrenhofes: Vielschichtiger Boden. Eine Beschreibung der horizontalen Gestaltung vor dem Bundeskanzleramt. In: Karl Braun, Claus-Marco Dieterich, Angela Treiber (ed.): Materialisierung von Kultur. Diskurse – Dinge – Praktiken.'. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. pp. 242–253.
- Martin Filler (August 30, 1998), Edifice Complex: The new Germany must find an architecture that won't evoke the old. New York Times.