Nouvel is well known for his slick-sensuous
glass surfaces. Here, he combined his familiar explorations of transparent and translucent
surfaces with attempts to interpret the historic department store building typeof
which the Paris Galeries is a commonly-cited exampleand to provide a unique face to
Friedrichstrasse, historically (and attempting to regain its former glory as)
Berlins fanciest shopping street.
Nouvels interpretation of the department
store building type replaces the famous atrium of the Paris Galeries with a number of
glass cone-shaped volumes. The main cone rises several stories upwards from street level
to the top of the building. A second, smaller, inverted cone drops from street level past
two shopping levels and two parking levels underground. The transparent cones are are
interesting as sculptural objects, but do little to make a better department store.
Architecturally, they neither give quite enough of a sense of vertigo nor succeed in
providing relief from what are otherwise cramped merchandise areas. Nonetheless, the cones
spur curiosity in visitors, who seem to explore the building itself more than they might.
One wonders, what happens to objects dropped into the inverted cone?
Jay Berman 1999
How to visit
Take the Ubahn U2 or U6 to Stadtmitte and walk
north along Friedrichstrasse. The building is block 207, between Franzoesische Strasse and
Mohrenstrasse. It is open during shopping hours.