Sony Center

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Sony Center
Sony Center
The Sony Center displays a "cyberpunk corporate urban (futuristic)" aesthetic.[1]
General information
Town or cityBerlin
Construction started1995
Opened14 June 2000; 22 years ago (2000-06-14)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Helmut Jahn
Peter Walker (landscape architect)
Architecture firmPWP Landscape Architecture
EngineerJaros, Baum & Bolles (MEP)
Structural engineerOve Arup & Partners
Other designersWaagner-Biro

The Sony Center is a Sony-sponsored complex of eight buildings located at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, designed by Helmut Jahn. It opened in 2000 and houses Sony's German headquarters. The cinemas in the center were closed at the end of 2019.


In the early 20th century, the site was originally home to Berlin's bustling city center. During World War II, it was the location of the infamous Nazi People's Court. Most of the buildings in its vicinity were destroyed or damaged during World War II. From 1961 onwards, most of the area became part of the "No Man's Land" of the Berlin Wall, resulting in the destruction of the remaining buildings. After the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, the square became the focus of attention again, as a large (some 60 ha (150 acres)), attractive location in the heart of a major European capital city had suddenly become available.

As part of a redevelopment effort for the area, the space was to be developed. In 1992, Sony acquired the 30,000-square-meter (320,000 sq ft) site from the Berlin city government for 97.2 million German marks, about US$61.6 million. Shortly after, the European Commission briefly investigated whether Sony paid less than the market price.[2] Over the following years, a total of eight buildings[3] were designed by Helmut Jahn[4] and Peter Walker as landscape architect, and construction was completed in 2000 at a total cost of 750 million euros.

The iconic 4,000 m2 (43,000 sq ft) vaulted roof covering the central open area between the main buildings was engineered and built by Waagner-Biro using steel, glass and translucent fabric.[5]

In February 2008 Sony sold the Sony Center for less than 600 million euros to a group of German and US investment funds, including investment bank Morgan Stanley, Corpus Sireo and an affiliate of The John Buck Company.[6] The group sold the Sony Center to the National Pension Service of South Korea for 570 million euros in 2010.[7][8]

In 2017, Oxford Properties and Madison International Realty acquired the complex for close to 1.1 billion euros.[9]

From 1999 until 2019, CineStar operated a cinema, Cinestar Sony Center, and an IMAX theater in the center.[10] Both were used for screenings in the Berlin International Film Festival until their closure.[11]


Architects Murphy/Jahn sought to create a complex where the outside was the "real" city, while inside was a "virtual" city, reinforcing this dichotomy through a series of passages and gates. The design's use of light, both natural and artificial, creates an environment that is "luminous, not illuminated."[12]

When the building opened, the Chicago Tribune wrote: "Jahn's design for the Sony Center bears a superficial resemblance to the dizzying atrium of his James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop because its buildings wrap around a big public space. But unlike the Thompson Center, the Sony Center's public space, called the Forum, has an umbrella-like roof of steel, glass and fabric partly open to the elements, with a cone-shaped, 30-foot-wide opening in its center."[13]

Hochtief was the general contractor; Jaros, Baum & Bolles provided MEP engineering; and the structural engineering consultants were BGS Ingenieursozietät and Ove Arup & Partners.[12]


The Sony Center contains a mix of shops, restaurants, a conference center, hotel rooms, around 67 residential units,[14] offices, the Museum of Film and Television, a Legoland Discovery Center, and a "Sony Style" store.[15]

Free Wi-Fi is available. During major sports events like the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it was also home to a large television screen on which the games were shown to viewers sitting in the large open area in the middle.[citation needed]

The Sony Center is located near Berlin Potsdamer Platz railway station, which can be accessed on foot. A large, covered shopping center, the Mall of Berlin, is nearby, as are many hotels, Deutsche Bahn central offices, along with an office building that is home to the fastest elevator in Europe.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Suzuki, David (2003). Good News for a Change:How Everyday People Are Helping the Planet. Greystone Books. p. 332. ISBN 978-1-55054-926-3.
  2. ^ Inquiry on Sony Berlin Deal New York Times, February 5, 1992.
  3. ^ Arno Schuetze (October 2, 2017), OMERS buys landmark Berlin property Sony Center for 1.1 billion euros Reuters.
  4. ^ "Architecture Sony Center". Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Sony Center – Waagner Biro / Steel and Glass facades". Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  6. ^ Berlin's Sony Center Sells for Bargain Price | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 28.02.2008
  7. ^ "NPS Acquires Sony Center in Berlin – News & Views – Hines". Hines. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  8. ^ Berlin, Berliner Morgenpost - (21 May 2010). "Südkoreaner kaufen Berliner Sony Center". (in German). Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  9. ^ Aime Williams (October 2, 2017), Berlin’s Sony Centre sold for over €1bn Financial Times.
  10. ^ Peter Zander (December 30, 2019), CineStar im Sony Center schließt: Ein Verlust für die Stadt Berliner Morgenpost.
  11. ^ Blaney, Martin (9 January 2020). "Berlinale 2020 adds screening venues in the wake of closures". Screen. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  12. ^ a b "Flashback: Sony Center Berlin / Murphy Jahn". ArchDaily. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  13. ^ "GLITZY SONY CENTER OPENS IN BERLIN AS PART OF REUNION BUILDING BOOM". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  14. ^ Aime Williams (October 2, 2017), Berlin’s Sony Centre sold for over €1bn Financial Times.
  15. ^ "Entertainment". Sony Center Berlin. Retrieved 9 February 2023.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°30′36″N 13°22′25″E / 52.51000°N 13.37361°E / 52.51000; 13.37361