Introduction: Rebuilding the Reichstag (03:36)
Modernist architect Sir Norman Foster was hired to rebuild the Reichstag. It was constructed to symbolize the unification of Germany in the 19th century and later became a symbol of Nazi tyranny before signifying the country’s reunification.
Returning to Reichstag (02:47)
The German parliament voted by a narrow margin to move the government from Bonn back to the Reichstag in 1991. Foster and Partners was the only British architectural firm invited to enter the contest to rebuild the historic parliament building.
Redesign for Reunification (04:23)
The building that was meant to symbolize a unified Germany overlooked the Berlin Wall for years. A series of concerts brought the Reichstag back into the public eye in the 1980s. The wall came down in 1989 and 215 million pounds were set aside to revamp the building
Burning of the Reichstag (02:32)
The Reichstag was set on fire on Feb. 27, 1933. Adolf Hitler was soon at the scene, blaming the communists. Hundreds were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and a state of emergency was declared. The Nazi dictatorship was born.
Replacing the Dome (05:39)
The Reichstag’s original dome did not fall during the war but was demolished afterward. For West Germans, it was a reminder of the bad old days. Foster’s was resistant to the idea of simply recreating the original structure.
Illuminating Design (06:04)
Foster’s design included the Carrot, an exhaust vent that extracted hot air from the debate chamber and enhanced natural airflow throughout the building. The dome also reflected light from within to produce a lighthouse effect at night, an idea that was controversial to some.
Splashes of Color (03:00)
Not everyone agreed with the selection of the color blue for chairs in the debating chamber. The turning point was Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s site visit; he liked how Foster’s use of color allowed parliament to stand out from typically drab government buildings.
Ghosts of the Red Army (05:06)
Foster chose to cover and varnish graffiti left behind by the Red Army instead of blasting it away, a choice that angered some. Moscow’s Central Armed Forces Museum displayed the flag the Soviets supposedly raised over the Reichstag.
Political Unrest (02:31)
With German unemployment rising and elections imminent, building workers attacked the site to protest the alleged use of illegal foreign labor. While the architects fretted over wear and finish, the politicians brooded over jobs and votes.
Parliamentary Eagle (05:47)
For Foster, the task of redesigning the parliamentary eagle became an obsession. He collected hundreds of historical examples of German eagles as he researched, ultimately coming up with a design that was leaner and friendlier. However, the old design prevailed.
Soldier Visit (02:56)
German soldiers were invited to the Reichstag a few weeks before its formal opening. The fear of being portrayed as militaristic was so great that pictures of the visit were embargoed until after presidential elections. The soldiers helped test the building’s acoustics.
Reichstag Opens (03:43)
Mareile Van der Wyst was born in the Reichstag building, as were many whose parents took refuge there during World War II. More than 24,000 visited the building on opening day, more than 150,000 in the first five days.
Credits: Rebuilding the Reichstag (00:53)
Credits: Rebuilding the Reichstag
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