Architecture and Berlin
I have always been interested in architecture and design. I am not a huge fan of architects but totally respect their ability to create beautiful structures. My problem with architects is that they are terrible business people and most of them have no sense of how space is used but much more interested in the physical design. I get it but it infuriates me particularly when the majority of people in the world use architects to create spaces to live and work in not to just gaze at.
Berlin has been undergoing massive transformation since the wall came down. There are cranes everywhere. Of course there are a few absolutely beautiful buildings that survived the war but many of them were destroyed. Now each neighborhood is being recreated.
One of the evenings we were at a hotel and I was amazed at the attention to detail, the fabrications used and the thought behind each decision. I couldn't help but think to myself how much did it cost per square foot to build this? How has the price per square foot changed over the last ten years? How many jobs did the construction of the city create? How many architects live in Berlin and what is the process for approval? How many contractors are in the city? How many high end contractors vs low end contractors? If they had built this hotel today what woud it cost now vs what it did cost? If they have thought about putting up lights in the bike lanes for evening bikers when they built them vs changing them today what would be the differential in cost?
You honestly look everywhere and there is construction. There is so much construction that they don't even bother blocking it out like most cities. Looking into this pit brought back a memory. One semester in college I spent in London. I was walking down the street one evening and sitting in a restaurant was a High School friend who had gone to Duke. I went in and then we spent the rest of the semester hanging out at least once a week. His family was in the construction business and he went into the business after graduating and from what I understand really ramped up the business. One day we were walking down the street and an entire block was under construction blocked out by make-shift walls. There was a whole in one of them that you could peek through. He ran over to it and just gazed in. He said to me isn't that just awesome? After being involved with construction projects from soup to nuts, I get it. Just like building a business there is definitely something inspiring and exciting about building something from the ground up.
Regardless of all my questions, the freedom or the lax of landmark laws because there are few landmarks left is amazing. Each time you turn around there is an interesting building that might or might not relate at all to the city or street. When the city is truly built up Berlin will be a destination location for anyone who is thinking about architecture.
I live in NYC which is so packed with people. We had just spent a week in Paris the week before we got to Berlin which is pretty jammed too. Comparatively Berlin is empty. Just shows you my perspective. I tried to capture some pictures of what is being built but believe me I did not give it justice. I am blown away by the architecture even in the shops, restaurants and hotels but I can't help think about the costs because that is how my mind works. In NYC, it would be way too expensive to create what Berlin has done. My guess is that in 10 years from now, it will be too expensive in Berlin to create what has already been built. I hope they move forward quickly and give as many creative people as possible the sign off on fascinating structures with intelligent contractors before it becomes too expensive and too controlled. If it was really controlled, this city would never look like it does today.