Residential, Office, and Hotel Building,
Am Zirkus 1, Berlin

To the left stands the Berliner Ensemble theater, to the right the Weidendammer Bridge, and in front Schiffbauerdamm and the Spree River. Within this expansive, open space the building—stretching southeast–northwest and with a width of approximately fifty-five and depth of some eighty-two meters—occupies a solitary, arresting position. Not only is the property a prime location, but it also has an interesting history. On this very site stood the Grosses Schauspielhaus (great theater), designed by Hans Poelzig and headed by Max Reinhardt, which remained standing until the late eighties, when it was demolished.

Due to the doubled four-wing layout of the structure with two internal courtyards and the staggering of the top four of ten floors above ground level, the building bears a certain similarity in shape and volume to Hamburg’s so-called Kontorhäuser, early twentieth-century office buildings. However, the solid, block-like appearance of these forerunners is des that are more akin to an airy, light, and even crystalline architecture.

Somewhat hidden by the trees on Bertolt- Brecht-Platz, the front of the building is symmetrically balanced. In other words, this main façade is divided into three parts: a broader central section and two narrower side sections. The vertical windows, each divided into separate fields by three to six printed glass panels, are horizontally framed by a light colored aluminum.

Just under half of the approximately 33,000 square meters of gross floor area is dedicated to eighty-seven apartments, the interiors of which have been designed by a team led by French designer Philippe Starck. A hotel with a good 300 rooms occupies another third of the floor area. The rest of the space is reserved for offices and shops. All the apartments are situated in the quieter northwestern section of the building, and all of the offices in the less tranquil southeastern section.

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