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Groundbreaking for Berlin’s New Museum of the Twentieth Century Is Delayed

The construction schedule for Berlin’s new Museum of the 20th Century has been pushed back. Monika Grütters, the German minister of state for cultural affairs, has announced that the building’s groundbreaking is now set for 2019, which will delay its original 2021 completion date.

The Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, whose other projects include Tate Modern’s Switch House in London and the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, won the design competition for the new building in 2016. Its vision for the structure was praised by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation but was criticized by the public, who described the original concept—a long rectangular building with a pitched roof—as a “barn” and a “new Aldi,” a German discount-supermarket chain.

A group, which calls itself #forumskultur: kulturforum, launched a petition against the design. The more than five hundred signatories called for the state to hold community meetings to discuss the project, for a more transparent financial plan, and for images and specs of the new design to be made public. The Future Foundation Berlin, a forum of people concerned with urban planning, also demanded that the size of the building be reduced, in addition to other changes.

Grütters told the German Press Agency that the architects, after consultations with the museum’s administration, have revised their plans, and a final version of their design will be presented to the public this fall. “I’m absolutely convinced by this new design,” she said. “It is now more precise, open, and inviting to visitors.”

The new design will decrease the size of the museum by 18 percent; however, the cost of the new institution may still rise. The German parliament originally allocated $220 million for the project in 2014. According to Grütters, the numbers were based on a feasibility study in 2012 and 2013 and must now be adjusted.

The institution will be located near the Potsdamer Platz in an area known as Berlin’s Kulturforum and will be situated between two modern architectural icons: the Nationalgalerie, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and the Berliner Philharmonie concert hall, designed by Hans Scharoun. It will house a collection of twentieth-century art, as well as the holdings of its private patrons Egidio Marzona, Erich Marx, and Heiner and Ulla Pietzsch, which are valued at approximately $1 billion. The four collectors initially lobbied for the institution because of the overcrowding at the Nationalgalerie, which began a four-year renovation project in 2015 and is expected to reopen in 2019.