Apartments instead of offices
With this proposal, the investor is in fact reanimating plans architect Hans Kollhoff developed 20 years ago, envisioning a group of ten buildings on the margins of Alexanderplatz, each 150 Meters high and used for office space. A result of the general post reunification euphoria, Kollhoffs plans quickly ended up in a drawer, since at the time Berlin had no shortage of office spaces, and more importantly its economic growth was stagnating. Instead of constructing new buildings, existing structures like the Kaufhof department store and the Park Inn Hotel were thoroughly renovated, after which their proprietors no longer felt the need for them to be removed. No houses would have to be torn down for the Hines Skyscraper, however. After all, it would be built on an unoccupied space. A final decision has not yet been made, neither has it been established to what exact use the building would be put after its completion. Nonetheless, the top floors could be an option for spacious apartments with views over the city rather than office spaces. Meanwhile, the property next to the Saturn building on Alexanderplatz is already reserved for another new building. After having held a competition and choosing the winning architect, the proprietor now seems in a hurry to make his plans come true: the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development has issued an accelerated zoning plan, constructions could begin in twelve to 18 months.
A new landmark for Berlin?
If the Hines‘ project were to become reality, Berlin would finally be part of an international trend favoring skyscrapers in urban centers. Residential high rise buildings offer a relatively high number of apartments on a relatively small area, resulting in a high density of living space without wasting land resources. Alexanderplatz in fact offers excellent conditions for such a project: it is characterized by a unique urban flair and is frequented by Berliners, tourists, families, business people and punks alike. Furthermore, it is one of Berlin’s public transport hubs and offers various shopping opportunities. The intended skyscraper would enrich the Berlin supply of real estate and – if architecturally well executed – could become a new landmark to the city.