The German Federal Chancellery (German: Bundeskanzleramt) is a federal agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor, the head of the Germanfederal government. The chief of the Chancellery (Chef des Bundeskanzleramtes) holds the rank of either a Secretary of State(Staatssekretär) or a Federal Minister (Bundesminister). The agency's primary function is to assist the Chancellor in coordinating the activities of the Federal Government. The current chief of the Chancellery is Minister Peter Altmaier.
Bundeskanzleramt is also the name of the building in Berlin that houses the personal offices of the Chancellor and the Chancellery staff. It is the largest government headquarters building in the world. By comparison, the new Chancellery building is ten times the size of the White House.
The Chancellery was established in 1871 as the Reichskanzlei (Imperial Chancellery) of the German Empire and originally had its seat in the Radziwiłł Palace (also known as Reichskanzlerpalais), originally built by Prince Antoni Radziwiłł on Wilhelmstraße 77 in Berlin. In 1938–39, the Neue Reichskanzlei (New Imperial 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 the summer of 1999, as part of the German government's move 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 current Chancellery building (opened in the spring of 2001) was designed by Charlotte Frank and Axel Schultes and was built by a joint venture of Royal BAM Group's subsidiary Wayss & Freytag and the Spanish Acciona from concrete and glass in an essentially postmodern style, though some elements of modernist style are evident. The design went through three versions between 1995 and 1997. Occupying 12,000 square meters (129,166 square feet), it is also the largest government headquarters building in the world. By comparison, the new Chancellery building is ten times the size of the White House. A semi official Chancellor apartment is located on the top floor of the building. 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.
Because of its distinctive but controversial architecture, journalists, tourist guides and some locals refer to the buildings as Kohllosseum (as a mix of Colosseum and former chancellor Helmut Kohl under whom it was built), Bundeswaschmaschine (federal laundry machine, because of the round-shaped windows and its cubic form), or Elefantenklo (elephant loo).
Access for the general public is only possible on particular days during the year. Since 1999, the German government has welcomed the general public for one weekend per year to visit its buildings - usually in August.
Chiefs (Directors) of the Chancellery attend Cabinet meetings. They may also sit as members of the Cabinet if they are also given the position of Minister for Special Affairs (Minister für besondere Aufgaben). They are often called "Kanzleramtsminister" (chancellery minister).