david chipperfield opens the first new building on berlin's museum island in almost a century

david chipperfield opens the first new building on berlin's museum island in almost a century

the ‘james simon galerie’ — the first new building on berlin’s museum island in almost a century — has officially opened at the heart of the german capital. designed by david chipperfield architects, the structure provides service facilities for museum visitors as well as temporary exhibition space and an auditorium with around 300 seats. 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. 

chipperfield james simon galerie
image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects (also main image)



together with the ‘archaeological promenade’, the james simon galerie represents the heart of the masterplan for museum island developed in 1999. ‘the james-simon-galerie resolves logistical and infrastructural issues for the museum complex, and also fulfills an architectural vision for the museum island,’ says david chipperfield. ‘this highly symbolic location encouraged us to find a reading of the building that transcends its practical functions, becoming defined instead by its general formal characteristics and a looser idea of purpose.’

chipperfield james simon galerie
image © simon menges



‘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,’ explains 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.’

chipperfield james simon galerie
image © simon menges



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.

chipperfield james simon galerie
image © simon menges

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

image © simon menges

image © simon menges

image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

image © luna zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

image © simon menges

image © luna zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

image © ute zscharnt for david chipperfield architects

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
user: 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,
sebastian von oppen, torsten richter, elke saleina, thomas schöpf, eberhard veit, anja wiedemann;
graphics, visualisation: dalia liksaite, jonas marx, antonia schlegel, ute zscharnt


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)
exhibition planning: duncan mccauley GmbH und co. KG, berlin (permanent exhibition)
signage: polyform – götzelmann middel GbR, berlin
landscape architect: levin monsigny landschaftsarchitekten, berlin

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