The International star architect Helmut Jahn has created a trend-setting complex of buildings, in which the center the light flooded Forum is located. The open, public space offers a natural atmosphere all year round.
From here the 103 metre tall, glass office tower, the integrated historic Emperor’s Hall (Kaisersaal) and the other buildings are just a few footsteps away. The concept of Helmut Jahn impresses with transparent design, implemented through glass facades, sophisticated light reflections and light refractions.
The link between history and modernity is one of a kind: parts of the former Hotel Esplanade are today an integral part of the architecture. In 1996 the Emperor´s Hall was translocated by the means of air cushions by 75 meters to today´s location.
With its spectacular roof construction the Sony Center has become an internationally famous landmark of Berlin.
The city of Berlin had developed a general land-use plan for Potsdamer Platz, which was also legally binding for the architecture of the Sony Center. The chosen concept was refined and integrated into the overall concept of the city planning of the development. Extensive specifications included among others that the Potsdamer Platz should be re-built at its original place.
It was a tremendous challenge to fulfill the request by the city of Berlin to integrate the existing parts of the Hotel Esplanade.
The explicit demand of mixed use was decisive for the architecture. Besides offices, gastronomy and other commercial uses, public and living space had to be created. Architect Helmut Jahn together with his Murphy & Jahn Architects Office won the architectural competition to design Sony Center.
During World War II, the Grand Hotel Esplanade, which was once located on what is now the Sony Center premises, was almost totally destroyed.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the halls that were left undestroyed in the building, were listed historic monuments. In order to be able to extend Potsdamer Strasse in width, the magnificent halls of this one-time luxury hotel had to be moved.
In 1996, the famous Kaisersaal went on a computer-controlled journey: The entire hall was moved by 75 meters in a costly and sophisticated operation.
Sony Center Roof
Construction of the roof began in fall of 1998 and the completion lasted more than two years.
At its highest point, the roof measures up to 67 meters above the Forum and has a free span of 102 meters length on the main axis and 77 meters length on the ancillary axis. The average translucence is at 50%.
The textile sails consist of self-cleaning, teflon-coated fabric. More than 5,250 sq.m are spanned. About 520 tons of steel were used for the ring beam and 100 tons for the king post. The impressive roof consists of 105 tons of safety glass, which is 16 mm thick and spans over 3,500 sq.m.
The illumination of the Sony Center roof was implemented by the Parisian Lighting Artist Yann Kersalé. His idea was to underline the spectacular roof construction of steel, glass and fabric. Kersale’s vision was to have clear glass and translucent fabric reflecting the daylight as well as the moonlight in a very extraordinary way.
In his concept the transparent structure of the roof serves as a projection surface for the changing light. The colors alternate from cyan to magenta, in order to represent the sunset. In the evening the lighting spectacle begins with white light, which lets the day appear to be longer.
At nightfall the lights in the Forum turn on and the roof constantly changes its colors. A sequence of this streaming play of colors lasts about 21 seconds and repeats itself without interruption until late at night.