Architecture and Environmental Design Faculty Publications


Refashioning No-Man’s-Land: Urban Image Politics and the Visual Dimensions of Democracy

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The occupation and redefinition by outsiders of a profoundly emblematic no-man's-land surrounding a most famous conduit from one world to another would be problematic under the best circumstances. Against the backdrop of dramatic political upheaval, social displacement, and economic uncertainty that has characterized post-Wall Berlin, the American Business Center at Checkpoint Charlie encapsulates the complex interaction of private and public decisions that have shaped the process of re-forming – some would say deforming – Berlin, during the past decade. Checkpoint Charlie Bauprojekt which today, ten years after inception, is only partially complete, provides a platform for a discussion about the city's long and fractious tradition of urbanism, and the boom and bust atmosphere of the last decade, which trapped architects between the forces of central planning and those of the free market. The author, who was Project Manager for Das Business Center at Checkpoint Charlie from 1993 to 1994, describes the excess of means over ends, and questions sacrifices made to the intention to create a grand capital city in the shortest possible time.

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