The old heart is beating again
The Potsdamer Platz is the old heart of Berlin serving as a junction between the old city centre in East Berlin and what was formerly the new West Berlin. Together with Leipziger Platz, which is connected to it in the west, it lies directly in front of the former Potsdam city gate and the former customs and excise wall of Berlin.
Up until the Second World War, Potsdamer Platz was located in front of the same train station bearing the same name. It also was home to many intersecting tram and bus lines and, in fact, the first traffic light on the continent and was one of the busiest squares in Europe. During the war, Potsdamer Platz was almost completely destroyed and it spent more than 40 years in a state of slumber as the city’s wasteland located between East and West.
After reunification, however, Germany had the unique opportunity here of completely rebuilding a city district in the centre of a city The architects Heinz Hilmer and Christoph Sattler won the competition for rebuilding Potsdamer Platz / Leipziger Platz. Their concept was based on the model of the "European city," which consciously decided against having dense high-rise buildings.
In 1993, construction began on the DaimlerChrysler headquarters based on a master plan drawn up by the architects Renzo Piano and Christoph Kohl Becker. The construction work was carried out by international star architects such as Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Arata Isozaki. At the biggest construction site in Europe, a new urban centre arose from scratch in a period of just five years. Helmut Jahn's Sony Center was completed in 2000 and has a futuristic aesthetic in contrast to the DaimlerChrysler headquarters. In early 2004, the elegant Beisheim Center opened at Lenné-Dreieck .
Even former skeptics now have to admit that, on account of the renovation work, life has once again returned to Potsdamer Platz.
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