Federal Foreign Office
The atrium - A place to meet
The nerve centre of the Federal Foreign Office is the Old Building with its chequered history, which was erected in 1934. Serving as the Reichsbank until 1938, in 1959 it became the headquarters of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). In 1995 it was decided to locate the Federal Foreign Office there and to add a New Building on Werderscher Markt. This New Building was designed by the architects Thomas Müller and Ivan Reimann and constructed from 1997 to 1999.
The refurbishment and alteration of the Old Building was based on the three-layer concept devised by the architect Hans Kollhoff. It reflects the building's three different eras and, at the same time, incorporates the building's history. The "first layer", the original Reichsbank building from the National Socialist era, and the "second layer", the alterations and installa?tions of the GDR era, were complemented by a "new" third layer. It lends the building a fresh modern flair without concealing the two older layers. In addition, it is intended to highlight the fact that the policies of the Federal Foreign Office have nothing in common with the two German dictatorships.
The three open courtyards the atrium, as well as the library and protocol courtyards face on to the city, which is in keeping with the architect's wish for public-mindedness and trans?parency. Numerous newly installed windows and luminous ceilings, the garden landscaping of the terraced roofs as well as the building's new colouring also serve this purpose.
The atrium, accessible to the public, with its huge 30 x 20m transparent glass façade, invites guests to enter the Visitor Centre an offer taken up by some 30,000 citizens each year. It is intended to represent a covered urban space in the heart of Berlin. The atrium façade was conceived by the glass artist James Carpenter as a glass curtain whose reflections and colour?fulness lend the space its character. The coated windows, which reflect the light colourfully, and the metal reflectors attached to the roof girders project the light coming from the south on to the courtyard façades in the shade. The colour and intensity of the reflected light change according to the way in which the light falls, as well as the time of day and year. At night, the colour-reflecting glass façade shines far into the night so that the Federal Foreign Office can be spotted from afar.
The exhibitions of the work of international artists which take place in the atrium demonstrate our multifaceted cooperation with different countries.