“The Olympic Park is Munich’s architecture landmark”

Architecture in Munich? That leaves many shrugging their shoulders or, at best, thinking of BMW Welt, the Allianz Arena or the Olympic stadium. But Munich, the home of the “architects’ trade fair” BAU, is anything but an architectural wasteland. There is plenty to discover, as we found out when we talked to Elisabeth Merk, Director of Munich’s Urban Planning Office.

Where is Munich’s architecture heading? Urban Panning Director Elisabeth Merk wants to develop “future fields.”

Munich is world famous thanks to the Oktoberfest and its soccer team, Bayern Munich. In the public’s perception, its architecture appears to play a secondary role …

In a way, yes. When it comes to international notoriety, you can’t top Bayern Munich and the Oktoberfest. But people also associate Munich with architecture, especially in the historic Old Town, which was completely restored. What many people don’t know is that 80 percent of the Old Town was destroyed. That they managed to maintain the city’s character after the ravages of time is a historic achievement. Beyond that, and that is where your appraisal is not entirely correct, people around the world associate Munich with the Olympic Park. It is without a doubt Munich’s architecture landmark.

The Old Town and the Olympic Park—that is the past. Architecturally speaking, how do you see the present and the future?

One definitely can’t rest on laurels such as the Oktoberfest or the Olympic Park. Instead, we have to develop future fields. I’m talking about Munich as a science hub with its respective structures. We might be able to do more there. Garching has good architecture and good institute buildings, but it’s not a landmark. The BMW Tower, the soccer stadium, those are highlights. I’m also excited to see how the new “Königshof” (hotel) turns out. Or the new Central Train Station including a 74meter tower above the adjacent Starnberg Station. There are also some unspectacular building interventions that have shaped the heart of the city. They include the “Fünf Höfe” and “Hofstatt” shopping centers, the “Literaturhaus” and the new synagogue on Jakobsplatz. They are all architectural highlights, just on a different level.

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