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David Chipperfield Architects selected to renovate the New National Gallery
British architect David Chipperfield in the Apollo hall during the topping-out ceremony of the New Museum in Berlin. EPA/RAINER JENSEN.

BERLIN.- The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation recently announced that the offices of the British architect David Chipperfield have won the contract to plan the renovation of the New National Gallery at the Kulturforum. This famous building designed by Mies van der Rohe will undergo comprehensive restoration, from the façade to the building services. The building will be closed to the public during the construction work, which is planned to begin in early 2015 and will take just under three years to complete.

Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, stated: 'I am confident that with David Chipperfield, this icon of modern architecture is in good hands. In our work together on the Museum Island, I greatly appreciated his sensitivity to historic architecture and the conceptual clarity of his approach.'

The selection of the architect for the renovations took place in a two-stage negotiation process (in accordance with the Regulation on the Awarding of Contracts for Freelance Services) with the participation of the Berlin Monument Authority, the Berlin Chamber of Architects and an advisory selection committee that included well-known architects. Twenty-four architecture firms submitted applications for this challenging project.

In preparation for the renovations, a comprehensive assessment of criteria for the preservation of historic monuments and architecture took place. Because the entire building will be affected by the renovations, it will not be possible to keep the museum open during the construction work. The following measures are planned: the renovation of all the building's structural elements (steel supports, reinforced concrete, steel and glass façade), the restoration of visible surfaces (stone, terrace), the replacement of security and fire protection equipment, the updating and preservation of all visible fixtures (lighting etc.) and the administration rooms, along with the restoration of existing furniture. Furthermore, the coat check, museum shop and café will be updated to meet current museum standards. In all these measures, the high standards of preservation of historic monuments will be adhered to. A cost estimate is part of the project and has not yet been completed.

As one of the museums of the National Gallery, the New National Gallery is an important part of 20th-century architectural history, with its apparently weightless steel structure and its expansive interiors. The museum, which was built between 1965 and 1968, is the only work of architecture built in Germany by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe after the Second World War. It was the first building on what at the time was the almost completely abandoned area around the Kulturforum, and was unveiled as the 'gallery of the 20th century'. The New National Gallery has not undergone any extensive renovations since its opening over 40 years ago.

David Chipperfield Architects was founded in 1985 in London and currently employs over 200 people, with additional offices in Berlin, Milan and Shanghai. The firm was responsible for planning the reconstruction of the Neues Museum on Berlin's Museum Island, which was seriously damaged during the Second World War. It has received numerous prestigious awards for the project, including the Mies van der Rohe Award from the European Union and the German Architecture Prize in 2011. The firm is also responsible for planning the James Simon Gallery, a modern visitor centre that will serve all the buildings on the Museum Island.

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