david-chipperfield-james-simon-galerie-berlin-museum-island-designboom-01berlin’s james simon galerie has topped out, six years after construction work first began in 2010. designed by david chipperfield architects, the building forms an integral part of the masterplan for the city’s museum island approved in 1999. named after one of berlin’s greatest patrons, the james simon galerie has been described by david chipperfield as ‘both a building and place’, explaining that ‘as well as its role to supplement the museological program, its purpose is to reorganise urban relations and accessibility within the museum island’.

view from the schlossbrücke (the palace bridge)
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects (also main image)



the new intervention will serve as an entrance building between the neighboring kupfergraben canal and the western façade of the neues museum, completed by prussian architect friedrich august stüler in 1855. the project involves rearranging the relationships and open spaces between the adjacent pergamon museum and the neues museum, and giving architectural form to the site’s large-scale urban qualities.

view from pergamon museum towards the humboldt forum
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



the design creates a link to the main entrance of the pergamon museum and to the archaeological promenade at basement level. a new row of columns continues stüler’s colonnade, which currently ends at the neues museum, and forms a small courtyard. a high plinth occupies the bank of the kupfergraben canal, level with the pergamon museum’s main exhibition floor. large parts of this colonnade on the southwest facing terrace remain publicly accessible outside of opening hours.

construction work first began on site in 2010
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



the james simon galerie itself is situated between the elevated colonnade and the new courtyard. an open outdoor staircase faces the lustgarten and serves as the main point of access to the new entrance building. once inside, visitors are led upstairs to a generously proportioned hall, which corresponds with the pergamon museum’s main exhibition floor. a café and a link to the pergamon museum are embedded within the colonnade, while a mezzanine floor between the foyer and the upper reception hall accommodates a cloakroom, toilets and a shop. temporary exhibition spaces and an auditorium are situated at basement level, which connects to the archaeological promenade.

view from lustgarten towards bodestraße
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects



the appearance of the james simon galerie is derived from its surrounding context on the museum island, reflecting classical architecture without imitating it. the use of reconstituted stone with natural stone aggregate blends in with neighboring buildings that feature limestone, sandstone and rendered façades. the completion of the new entrance building is scheduled for 2018.

the appearance of the building is derived from its surrounding context
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

rendering illustrating the view towards the completed main entrance
image © stiftung preußischer kulturbesitz / imaging atelier

the completion of the new entrance building is scheduled for 2018
image © stiftung preußischer kulturbesitz / imaging atelier




project info:


project start: 2007
construction start (foundation pit): 2010
construction start (shell and core): 2014
completion due: 2018
opening: 2018
gross floor area: 10,900 sqm


client: stiftung preußischer kulturbesitz represented by bundesamt fur bauwesen und raumordnung
user: staatliche museen zu berlin
architect: david chipperfield architects berlin
design: alexander schwarz – partner
project management: martin reichert – partner
project architect: urs vogt
project team: mathias adler, alexander bellmann, thomas benk, martin benner, alexander corvinus, maryla duleba, matthias fiegl, anke fritzsch, anne hengst, paul hillerkus, isabel karig, ludwig kauffmann, mikhail kornev, astrid kühn, thomas kupke, dalia liksaite, jonas marx, elke saleina, antonia schlegel, thomas schöpf, eberhard veit, linda von karstedt, sebastian von oppen, anja wiedemann
tender procedure and site supervision: wenzel + wenzel, berlin
quantity surveyor: christine kappei, stuttgart
landscape architect: levin monsigny landschaftsarchitekten, berlin
structural engineer: IGB ingenieurgruppe bauen, berlin
services engineer: INNIUS DÖgmbh, berlin / inros lackner AG, rostock
building physics: müller-BBM gmbh, berlin
lighting consultant: mati AG, adliswil
lighting design: conceptlicht gmbh, traunreut (outdoor lighting)
fire protection consultant: arge brandschutz NEG, berlin
project management: ernst &young real estate gmbh, berlin / kemmermann projektmanagement, berlin