Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales

NORMAN FOSTER

The vision: High-tech, skyline-transforming structures of glass and steel but with an elegant, humanist touch

Claim to fame: Reichstag dome, Berlin

Built in 1999, British architect Sir Norman Foster's Reichstag dome is one of the most successful fusions of traditional and modern architecture of all time, and, for many, stands as a symbol of modern Germany. Shortly after reunification, the Bundestag (German parliament) awarded Foster the symbolic commission of renovating the Reichstag building, the seat of the original parliament that dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1933, the building was partly destroyed in a fire, which Hitler blamed on terrorists from the opposition Communist party, consequently winning the elections for the Nazis. Given this emotional weight, Foster's challenge was to open the Reichstag to the hearts and minds of the public. He designed a transparent dome to give visitors panoptic views of Berlin's cityscape, as well as a look down into the parliamentary chambers through a central mirrored cone that reflects natural light below. This connection to both the city and its seat of government, as well as the powerful visual impact of the dome itself, has proved a great success, making the Reichstag one of Berlin's prime attractions.

Deutscher Bundestag
Tel: 49 30 227 0

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