Reichstag Dome was rebuilt following reunification
The building was largely destroyed in 1933, the result of a suspicious fire that was blamed on Communist supporters. There was no actual evidence to suggest the true origin of the fire, or even that the fire was deliberate. Allied bombings of Berlin during World War II destroyed the remainder of the building. The Soviets partially rebuilt the building as a conference center in the 1960’s, during their occupation of the city. The dome, which had been an integral part of the original design, however, was not part of the reconstruction. Meanwhile, the western capital relocated to Bonn.
With the reunification of Germany, Berlin again became the country’s capital city. The Parliament decided to rebuild the Reichgstag dome, using the Soviet’s initial reconstruction as a starting point. The government sponsored a design contest to rebuild the dome over the Parliament building in 1993. Norman Foster, a British architect, won the contest and was commissioned to rebuild the Reichstag Dome.
Foster’s original design was rejected on the basis of cost, and eventually, he designed the glass dome, incorporating spiral staircases originally proposed by another architect. The design allows the public to ascend to top of the dome, and see down into the Parliamentary chambers. The design supports the broader idea that the government serves its people.
The glass in the dome relies on a series of mirrors to reflect sunlight into the dome without increasing the temperature in the building. A specially designed shade tracks the movement of the sun to block direct sunlight throughout the day. The dome actually increases the energy efficiency of the building.
When it was first introduced, the glass dome was controversial. The glass dome provides a 360° view of both the activities in the Bundestag, and the City of Berlin. The dome is open to the public from 8:00 AM to midnight daily and has become a very popular and inspirational tourist attraction.
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Photo Credit: Reinhard Link , via Flickr.com