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Rising to the Top
Gehry designing the tallest tower in Berlin.
Gehry's spiraling tower will be split into three sections.
Courtesy Gehry Partners

Gehry Partners has won a competition to design Berlin’s tallest building and first new residential skyscraper in over forty years. The Die Mitte tower is being developed by Houston, Texas–based international real estate firm Hines, and will go up next to the company’s Die Mitte retail building in Alexanderplatz square. The 500,000-square-foot building will be 492 feet tall and contain 300 apartments and a hotel.


Gehry’s cream-colored design, clad in stone, features a spiraling tower in three segments. The lowest portion of the building is articulated as a cluster of smaller towers, while the central portion of the building rises as a more subtly undulating single volume. The third tier of the skyscraper again splits into apparently separate blocks, rotated against and seeming about to lift off of the central section.


The tower is Gehry Partners’ third collaboration with Hines. The firm designed the Hines-owned DZ Bank, also in Berlin, as well as the New World Center in Miami Beach, Florida.


Gehry Partners beat out nine other firms, including Adjaye Associates and Architectonica, for the commission. “In order to transform the square we want to take a chance on something new and exceptional,” said Christoph Reschke, co-managing director of Hines Immobilien GmbH.


Not everyone in Berlin is thrilled with the competition’s outcome. At least two of the German firms submitting designs have questioned whether the jury placed too much faith in the so-called “Bilbao effect,” the power of a Gehry building to spur revitalization. In an interview with The Guardian, competition participant Hans Kollhoff criticized the Gehry design as lacking relevance to everyday life in Berlin. Kollhoff has a long history with the Alexanderplatz site, as the author of a 1993 plan to place ten towers around the square.

Anna Bergren Miller