Tempelhofer feld: library already wobbling

The Central and State Library is on the brink of collapse: construction would be much more expensive than expected. The opposition demands that other locations be examined.

Klaus Wowereit (SPD) is backing away from the current designs for the planned Central and State Library (ZLB) on Tempelhofer Feld. Should the presumed cost increases from 270 million euros to around 350 million prove to be true, it would have to be considered whether implementing the plans in this form "is realistic at all," the governing mayor said Monday at the meeting of the Culture Committee. He added that the new building for the ZLB should not be "completely out of line." Currently, the building administration is subjecting the two architectural designs to a detailed cost review. Members of the opposition factions called on Wowereit to look for "cheaper alternatives" instead of the Tempelhof ZLB site.

Before the meeting, Senate Building Director Regula Luscher had given the members of the Culture and Economics Committee a tour of the former airport building. The ZLB designs are currently on display there. Luscher confirmed the possible cost increases of up to 30 percent to over 350 million euros. With the project scheduled to run until 2021, there was "no guarantee" that construction costs would remain stable. In addition, it was learned during the tour that further construction phases such as the external development or bicycle parking areas had not yet been included.

In an architectural competition held in December 2013, the jury had selected two designs for the Central and Regional Library: a glass high-rise and a long, spaceship-like concrete ribbon. The two plans were to be revised by the architects, as they appeared too cost-intensive. The 55,000-square-meter new building – a favorite project of the governor – had been estimated at 270 million euros.

In Wowereit’s opinion, everything indicates that the construction sum mentioned "is probably unrealistic. He conceded that by possibly reducing the library area to 51,000 square meters, the costs could perhaps be kept down. However, falling short of these dimensions would "not be in the interest of the users." Wowereit said, "More space away is not possible." After the final cost calculation, it could be decided where the journey would go.

For the representatives of the Greens and the Left, on the other hand, the measure is already full. Sabine Bangert, cultural policy spokeswoman for the Green Party faction, criticized the procedure: "We’ve already reached the point with the costs that it becomes necessary to look for alternatives." She called on Wowereit to consider expanding the location of the America Memorial Library. Philipp Magalski of the Pirates reminded the incumbent Senator of Culture that the Tempelhof-Schoneberg district is demanding that the ZLB be housed in the airport building. Wolfgang Brauer (Linke) spoke of a "third-class funeral for the ZLB" after Wowereit’s remarks.

The governor seems to already have this variant in mind: If the referendum turns out positively for the applicants, "there will be no ZLB at this location," he said.