My most recent fascination has become the eastern region of Mitte from Alexander Platz to Strausberer Platz, between Moll Strasse and the Spree. This quarter is composed primarily of prefab, Modernist plattenbau, except for the Socialist Neo Classical buildings that line the imposing Karl-Marx-Allee. The entire 2km stretch of Karl-Marx-Allee (known as Stalinallee until Stalin’s death) was constructed between 1952–1960 according to a detailed master plan. The landmark domed towers that cap the street’s uninterrupted course from one end at Frankfurter Tor to the circle at Strausberger Platz were designed by Hermann Henselmann, who was appointed head architect of Berlin in 1953. It’s the shorter distance between Strausberger Plz. and Otto-Braun Strasse, however, that I most admire. Here one encounters some compelling modernist-inflected examples of Soviet-styled architecture that, I would guess, made their way onto the Allee’s roster toward the end of its construction period in the early 60s. Josef Kaiser and Herbert Aust seem to be responsible for most of what I’m referring to here—the monumental Kino International, the Art Deco-influenced Cafe Moskau (by Kaiser and Werner Dutschke) and several freestanding, open-plan and largely glass-walled retail structures that front the street (Karl-Marks-Allee 45, for example, which is currently doing duty as a pop-up gallery for Bombay Sapphire, and was recently announced as the site for Friedrich Petzel’s new venture, Capitain and Petzel).
Kino International, Josef Kaiser and Herbert Aust
Kino International, rear view
Alex Back Shop, Otto-Braun Str.
coffee cup sign, Otto-Braun Str.
There are some interesting photos of this same area from the early 1960s here.
Also, a nice comparison of Karl-Marx-Allee, the East’s major ideo-architectural statement of the period, with the Interbau 57 site in the West is available at architectureinberlin (great blog, well worth spending some time).