"Rebuilding Berlin’s Royal Castle as a ‘Humboldt Forum:’
Radical Surgery Toward a Conservative Vision?"

A Lecture Presented by John Maciuika, Associate Professor of Art and Architectural History, Baruch College

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After nearly two decades of post-reunification controversy, the Berlin authorities and a private "Stadtschloss Berlin Initiative" have vowed to raise private funds to reconstruct a minimum of three historic facades of the Prussian Royal Castle.

The castle was severely damaged by bombing in 1945, and although the building was in partial use after the war, its remains were dynamited by East German authorities in 1950. Over the past decade, a number of German institutions have produced plans to rebuild some version of the royal castle and house a mixed-use cultural and educational facility under the new name, "Humboldt Forum."

This talk examines the steps that have been taken since reunification that have brought such a complex project into being. Questions to be answered include: What are the stakes? Why has a "public-private partnership" been judged the best means to go about organizing and financing the reconstruction of the castle?

Who are the major players involved, and how have "winners" and "losers" in the lengthy "castle debate" been determined? Does the architecture of a reconstructed palace fit into larger visions for a national landscape in the historic heart of Berlin, given the demolition of significant GDR buildings in the area, the expansion of Berlin's Museum Island, and the planned reconstruction of Schinkel's renowned "Bauakademie"? Whose vision and whose national landscape will be realized, and what interests will this reconstructed historic urban ensemble best serve?

The lecture will be followed by followed by a tour of the Kohn, Pedersen, Fox 2001 Newman Vertical Campus building. This lecture is presented by the Society of Architectural Historians, New York Metropolitan Chapter.

Event Information

Date: Thursday, November 13, 2008. Reception at 6:00 pm, Lecture at 6:30 pm

Location: Newman Vertical Campus, Room 14-270. 55 Lexington Avenue at 24th Street