Pictured above: The new embassy and the pre-WWII building.
After 70 years, the United States re-opened its embassy in Berlin last week. Despite being taken as a sign of renewal in German-American relations by some, the building’s aesthetic has been subject to withering criticism:
…architecture critic Gerwin Zohlen is unimpressed. He partly called the newly unveiled exterior “boring” and a “rather uninspired” example of 1980s post-modernism that was already out of date.
He suggested Berliners nickname the building by California architects Moore Ruble Yudell the “Pancake,” in reference to the main-road side that tourists will pass on their way to the Holocaust Memorial.
“It gives the impression of being horizontally stretched out,” he told DPA news agency.
Instead of projecting the grandeur of a superpower, the building suggested a nation that had given up being world policeman and withdrawn into self-defense, Zohlen said.
“It would look okay in the US Midwest. But it doesn’t suit an inner city in ‘Old Europe.’”
Zohlen said the stonework was shoddy and the building looked “cheap,” a view that has a basis in fact, since the US Congress pared back the construction budget by $60 million compared to the original proposal.
He called the building “bunker-style,” a charge also lobbed at the French embassy, which opened across the square in 2003.
The Germans, according to former US Ambassador John Kornblum, “criticize almost everything that gets built.” It’s a “sort of public sport,” he said.