the ‘james simon galerie’ building — the new entrance to berlin’s museum island — is now complete, and has been handed over to local authorities ahead of its public opening in summer 2019. designed by david chipperfield architects, the building will provide service facilities for museum visitors as well as a temporary exhibition space and an auditorium with around 300 seats.

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view from the south
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects (also main image)



‘the james simon galerie is both a building and place,’ explains david chipperfield. ‘while its presence can be justified by the functions and facilities it provides for the museological program, its purpose is to reorganize urban relations and accessibility within the museum island. its role is not so much defined by its function but rather by its responsibility as a public building at the heart of the city.’

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view towards the main entrance
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



together with the ‘archaeological promenade’, the james simon galerie represents the heart of the masterplan for museum island developed in 1999. the building is named after one of the city’s most important patrons, who bequeathed his art collections and excavation findings to the berlin state museums at the beginning of the twentieth century. over the coming months, the james simon galerie will be fitted-out in time for its inauguration in 2019.

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view from the terrace
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



‘the architectural language of the james simon galerie adopts existing elements of the museum island, primarily from the external architecture, such as built topography, colonnades and outdoor staircases, making reference to schinkel, stüler and the other architects involved in the creation of museum island,’ says the design team. ‘the materiality of the building in reconstituted stone with natural stone aggregate blends in with the rich material palette of the museum island with its limestone, sandstone and rendered façades, while smooth in-situ concrete dominates the interior spaces.’

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view towards ‘lustgarten’
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



after ascending three flights of wide steps, visitors enter the building at its upper level. here, a generous foyer provides direct access to the main exhibition floor of the pergamon museum. the foyer also encloses the cafeteria and opens out onto a grand terrace that runs the full length of the building. below, a mezzanine floor accommodates the museum shop, a large cloakroom, toilet facilities and lockers, while the temporary exhibition spaces and an auditorium are situated in the basement level. see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here.

david chipperfield james simon galerie
upper foyer
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

david chipperfield james simon galerie
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view along the kupfergraben canal
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view towards pergamon museum
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

david chipperfield james simon galerie
view from schlossbrücke
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



project info:


project start: 1999/2007

construction start: 2009 (foundation pit), 2014 (shell and core)

completion: 2018

opening: 2019

gross floor area: 10,900 sqm

client: stiftung preußischer kulturbesitz represented by the bundesamt für bauwesen und raumordnung

project management: miriam plünnecke

project controlling: ernst &young real estate GmbH, berlin

kemmermann projektmanagement im bauwesen GmbH & co. KG, berlin
staatliche museen zu berlin


architect: david chipperfield architects berlin

partners: david chipperfield, martin reichert, alexander schwarz (design lead)

project architect: urs vogt (preparation and brief to technical design, site design supervision)
project team: mathias adler, alexander bellmann, thomas benk, martin benner, alexander corvinus, maryla duleba, matthias fiegl, anke fritzsch,
dirk gschwind, anne hengst, paul hillerkus, isabel karig, linda von karstedt, ludwig kauffmann, mikhail kornev, astrid kühn, thomas kupke, dalia liksaite, jonas marx, sebastian von oppen, torsten richter, elke saleina,
 antonia schlegel, thomas schöpf, eberhard veit, anja wiedemann


in collaboration with —
quantity surveyor: christine kappei, stuttgart

executive architect: wenzel + wenzel freie architekten, berlin (procurement, construction supervision)
project management: christoph-phillip krinn


structural engineer: IGB ingenieurgruppe bauen, berlin

services engineer: INNIUS DÖ GmbH, berlin; inros lackner AG, rostock
building physics: müller-BBM GmbH, berlin

fire consultant: arge brandschutz NEG, berlin

lighting consultant: matí AG, adliswil

lighting design: conceptlicht GmbH, traunreut (outdoor lighting)
landscape architect: levin monsigny landschaftsarchitekten, berlin

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