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

philip stevens I designboom

jul 04, 2019

Read More