Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
It's a badminton birdie! It's the glass ceiling of the grand courtyard at Helmut Jahn's Sony Center!
Helmut Jahn is German-born but Chicago-based, and has already left a considerable imprint on that US city through structures such as the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare Airport and the State of Illinois Center, which is a kind of prototype for the Sony Center, designed nearly 15 years earlier.
I'm not going to repeat a whole lot of guide book facts and figures about Potsdammer Platz but I do want to say that I think it's absolutely fabulous. Though I passed by several times during the day, it was only on my last night that I got to walk through it and spend some time there. After the concert at the Philharmonie we walked up and I now think, that on foot, at night is posibly one of the best ways to encounter it. Obviously none of the shops were open at 11OOp.m but it was still fairly hopping with people, noise and music. Approaching from the Kulturforum, we got the full 3-d effect of the looming towers of glass and steel, all lit up like Christmas trees. Inside, looking up at the Sony Centre canopy I actually felt awestruck - the sort of feeling I mostly associate with childhood and seeing movies about faraway exotic places. That was a nice feeling and one not experienced too often. It's hard to single out any one aspect, just the entire combination of water, ice ( Winter world ) blue light, glass and steel. It felt more like Manhattan than Berlin and for me it was really magical.
Later, in the Potsdammer Platz station I took this photo of the area in pre-war times. What's there now is one of Berlin's more daring and innovative transformations and one that definitely works. Unfortunately, none of the photos I took are worth uploading, as once again, my camera was simply not up to the job. It was in Berlin I decided I had to have a camera that would work in all lighting conditions and I'm happy to say that I am now the proud owner of a Canon SLR digital. Next time I'll definitely have decent photos to illustrate this brilliant showcase of modern architecture
Favorite thing: As for the contemporary architecture, Postdamerplatz is today probably the most interesting sight in whole of the world. I didn't take any picture of it in a gloomy day-light, and that was right decision because the whole area looks spectacular under the lights. The most attractive is Sony Center of course, which looks alike to those scenes we see in a SF films. The rooftop is in particularly attractive because it is illuminated and the colour of illumination, red and blu, changes every thirty seconds or so.
With the Daimler-Benz sector built up to gigantic proportions since 1998, it's hard to imagine the former no man's land that was here, between East and West Berlin.
This is a huge urgan site, and the one place in Berlin that looked like a metropolis... looking for its soul. It's not a favourite thing for me but it's certainly history in motion. This used to be the heart of pre-war Berlin, the Berlin I would have liked to know. Now it's emerging as the Berlin of the future.
"Berlin is the most strictly 'romantic' of cities. Lakes, woods, concrete, gleaming walls, breached walls, ruins, decay, glass, steel, beer, drugs, dirt. Multiple languages, cosmopolitan teeming, hard ideas confronted, unforeseeable artistic proposals. All in a catastrophic and exulting jumble. Leprosy and luxury. Intelligence and creativity along with stagnation and stupidity. A soul, in short, with the sky on top. Stubborn, hardy, wounded, cruel and busy recreating itself without cease."
(Berlin, deux temps trois mouvements -- Christian Prigent)
There can be no better way to gain a sense of what Potsdamer Platz looked like before the Concrete Curtain came down than to watch the Movie "Wings of Desire". (The remake "City of Angels" with Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage hasn't much in common with the classic Wim Wenders film except for the basic story of an angel falling in love with a mortal human and giving up his immortality in exchange for being able to feel like a human).
It is an excellent film, even though the depressing music by Nick Cave and the manieristic poetry of Peter Handke are giving me a headache each time I'm putting the film into the VCR.
I like it!!
This is an important square and traffic intersection in the center of Berlin, Germany, lying about 1 km south of the Brandenburg Gate. Since the fall of the Wall it has risen again as a glittering new heart for the city and the most visible symbol of the new Berlin.
It is a place with a great and long history, too long to write about herein. But if you want have a look, visit the website about.
After 1990, the square became the focus of attention again, as an attractive location which had suddenly become available in the center of a major European city. It was widely seen as one of the hottest, most exciting building sites in Europe. The city government chose to divide the area into four parts, each to be sold to a commercial investor, which then planned new construction.
At almost any time of the day, the place is alive with people. It has become a must-see for visitors, a top shopping area for tourists and probably the number-one spot to go for English speaking film fans, with more than 40 screens in three cinemas, including an English speaking cinema, a film academy and a film museum.
(please look also for my tip about Sony Center)
Favorite thing: This is a modern place for having a cafe and relax - but it's popularity is based on the brilliant roof. It is just made of steel, glass and some canvas, illuminated with changing colours in the evening.
Favorite thing: In the year 1990 this area was bare ground, during the 90?s it was the biggest building site in Europe, now everything is new and alive again. A good place for shopping and relaxing, but is it great architecture? Maybe.
Are you looking for shops, cafe´s, cinemas, IMAX, musical theatre, casino, ... ... then go there, but just pay attention, it´s for sure a place where you can spent a lot of money, but from my point of view, there´s still something like 'atmosphere' missing in that place. Let´s see, how it will develop in the next years.
The centerpiece is Sony Center, a series of brightly colored steel-and-glass office buildings, cinemas, cafes, and an apartment building, built around an open plaza flooded with natural light from a tentlike roof made of cable-reinforced fiberglass.
Nearby is the DaimlerChrysler complex, an indoor mall with shopping and restaurants.
Sony Center houses the Berlin Filmmuseum. For an aerial view of the gardens near the fountain in the middle of the plaza, go to one of the museum's upper floors and look over the balcony.
S-Bahn (suburban train) "Potsdamer Platz" S 1, 2, 25
U-Bahn (underground) "Potsdamer Platz" U 2 or "Mendelssohn-Bartholdy-Park" U 2
Bus 129, 148, 200, 248, 348
Favorite thing: To have an aerial view of Berlin city try Berlin Hi-Flyer. It is around euro 19 for adults and euro 10 for kids. It goes up to 150 meter high. Situated near Potsdamer Platz.
Favorite thing: Potsdamer Platz was a fairly new development in Berlin when we were there...it is a shopping centre/office area built in the old 'no mans land'....
Fondest memory: this used to be Europe's biggest building site and construction work. The area used to be nomansland before the fall of the Wall and is now known as the 'Potsdamer Platz'.
Favorite thing: One of the highlights of the trip, going up in the air (150m!) by balloon. A great view over Berlin and only 15DM!!
Just visit the city!
i.e. the airport, the Kurfürsten damm, Europe center,
Fondest memory: Tiergarten on a summer day!