The Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin

The Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin

Studio Daniel Libeskind
Berlin, Germany
Project Year
Stories By
Studio Daniel Libeskind


Saint-Gobain Weber GmbH

Jewish Museum Berlin

Daniel Libeskind’s latest project for the Jewish Museum Berlin opens

Studio Daniel Libeskind as Architects

Roughly a dozen years after Daniel Libeskind’s extension to the Jewish Museum Berlin opened to great acclaim in 2001, the museum is set to unveil its latest collaboration with the architect, the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin. The official opening, for which Mr. Libeskind will travel toGermany, will take place on the evening of Saturday, November 17.

The 25,000-square-foot, one-story Academy stands on the site ofBerlin’s one-time flower market, whose shell undergirds the new structure. Located across from the museum proper, the Academy brings together its library, archives and education center and offers additional office, storage and support space for the museum.

Since the museum’s reopening in 2001, its public and educational programs have more than doubled. In addition to 7,000 guided tours each year, the museum offers more than 400 educational programs ranging from workshops for children to training courses for museum professionals. The new facility will house these programs as well as symposia, conferences, lectures and seminars.

The museum’s library and archives have also moved to the Academy. The archives, which contain both printed and audio-visual materials, have also doubled in size over the last decade while the library’s holdings have tripled.

In-Between Spaces

Daniel Libeskind’s design for the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin links the building to the museum’s other structures and open spaces, both thematically and structurally.

One of the first things visitors see upon entering the piazza leading to the building are the words of the great medieval Jewish scholar and philosopher Moses Maimonides. His famous adjuration, “Hear the truth, whoever speaks it,” is splashed across the left side of the façade, a reminder that those who delve into history must be prepared to accept what they find regardless of the source. The five languages in which the charge is given – English, German, Hebrew, Arabic and the original Judeo-Arabic of medievalSpain– reinforce that message while also suggesting the universal nature of truth.

On the right, a large downward-sloping cube bursts through the façade. Its unusual contours echo the jagged shape of the museum’s 2001 extension, designed by Mr. Libeskind and visible across the street. That shape is also a variation on a theme found in the museum’sGardenofExileand Glass Courtyard, also designed by Mr. Libeskind and opened 2007 and 2005, respectively.

Two large skylights, visible from the piazza, rest atop the cube. Shaped like the Hebrew letters Alef and Bet (A and B), they are another reminder of the importance of learning and knowledge to the human experience and of their centrality to Jewish life.

After passing through a large gash in the cube that serves as the Academy’s entryway, visitors are decanted into transitional space comprising two more huge cubes. Thrust forward at odd angles, the cubes, which house the library and the auditorium, form a jagged triumvirate with the rear end of entrance cube.

The movement and interaction suggested by the cubes’ shape and placement and by the seemingly rough-hewn timber (actually radiate pine timber) used to fabricate them suggests the sort of crates used to transport precious objects, including books. They also suggest Noah’sArk, which preserved the most precious thing of all – living beings, in all their splendid variety – during the most important voyage in biblical history.

“In-Between Spaces,” Mr. Libeskind’s name for his design, describes the transitional area among the three cubes. It also alludes to the different perspectives offered by that unique vantage point. Standing on that spot, looking into the hall and out on to museum’s other structures and spaces, visitors are ideally placed to reflect on the museum’s larger purpose and their own experience of it.

Said Mr. Libeskind: “My ongoing collaboration with the Jewish MuseumBerlinis a source of tremendous professional and personal pride. Each project offers a fresh chance to illuminate Jewish history and culture, to understand the tragedies and the triumphs, and to celebrate the resilience, creativity and erudition that have been Jews’ enduring legacy.”


NGPhoto as Photographers

The Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin was designed by Daniel Libeskind and represents an extension of the main building. Located in the former central flower market hall, it enables the Jewish Museum Berlin to proceed with the expansion of its work aggregating the library, archive and museum education activity’s under one roof.

A tilted cube penetrates the outer wall of the hall creating a counterpart to the Jewish Museum Berlin main entrance and the Extension building. The shape and design of the cube forms an aesthetic connection to the JMB’s Garden of Exile as well as the Glass Court.

The Academy of the Jewish Museum

Saint-Gobain Weber GmbH as Manufacturers

In direct vicinity of the world-renowned architecture of Daniel Libeskind the Jewish Museum Berlin has been supplemented with an Academy. A former wholesale flower market was purchased and renovated for the extension. Again Daniel Libeskind received the commission.

The American architect kept the original market hall mostly intact and installed three oblique cubes in accordance with a house-in-house concept. One of the wood-cladded cubes penetrates the facade of the former market hall, and in the spirit of the Academy's social education mandate, reaches into the city. Two additional oblique cubes structure the interior space and create characteristic intermediate spaces.

It is also the raw charm of the materials used that constitutes the quality of the building. Among other things the floor contributes in this regard. As the top-most walkable layer, the cavity floors received a coating with DesignFloor from Saint-Gobain Weber. The cement-based self-levelling compound "weber.floor 4610" permits the design of puristic, for the most part jointless floors in colours.


Jewish Museum Berlin as Client

The W. Michael Blumenthal Academy is based on Daniel Libeskind’s design "Zwischenräume." Located on the opposite side of the road, the new building complex comprises three inclined cubes. The cube form is a variation on a theme found in the Garden of Exile and the Glass Courtyard. Daniel Libeskind thus links the Academy to the existing museum architecture both in context and in expression of form.

The first cube, which forms the entrance to the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy, penetrates the façade of the building and creates a counterpart to the Jewish Museum’s main entrance in the "Kollegienhaus" and to the head of the Libeskind Building on the opposite side of the Lindenstraße. It is illuminated by skylights in the form of the Hebrew letters Alef and Bet, relating to the education and research work at this site. In the hall’s interior, two further cubes tilted towards one another house the auditorium and the library. These wood-paneled cubes are evocative of transport crates on the one hand and Noah’s Ark on the other. The cubes symbolize the transmission of legacies from around the world to the Jewish Museum Berlin – the Academy houses these legacies and makes them accessible to a wider public. Between the three tilted cubes, an inspirational space emerges that allows diverse views both into the hall’s interior and onto the future town square outside. These "Zwischenräume" visually link the Academy and the former flower market to the "Kollegienhaus" with its Glass Courtyard and the Libeskind Building.

Besides the auditorium and open-access library with adjoining reading room, the W. Michael Blumenthal Academy houses rooms for education work – work space for guest students, offices, seminar and meeting rooms. Through the library cube, a bypass separated from the open-access library by a glass wall leads into the archive area with archive depots, work spaces for visiting scientists, offices, and seminar rooms. The "Diaspora Garden" can be found in the courtyard between the building elements.

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ManufacturersSaint-Gobain Weber GmbH
ManufacturersSaint-Gobain Weber
Product Spec Sheet
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