Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Headquarters

Rosa Luxemburg memorial
Rosa Luxemburg Memorial
by Mies van der Rohe

 

Background

 

Given the history of Rosa Luxemburg as a founder of the Spartacus Bund, a precursor to the German Communist Party, it would seem peculiar to many outside of Germany that a foundation bearing her name would be one of the largest in Germany. Rosa Luxemburg, although born in Poland, became famous during World War I in Berlin as an anti-war activist. She was murdered during the Communist uprising against the German government in 1919. In 1926, Mies van der Rohe was commissioned to design a monument commemorating her and Karl Liebknecht, co-founders of the Spartacus Bund (above). The monument was later demolished by the Nazis in 1935 and never rebuilt. One promising attempt to rebuild the memorial was abandoned when Mies withdrew his support for it—no doubt a product of the Cold War at the time—and Mies’s experiences with the McCarthy hearings at the Un- American Activities Committee.

The recent Rosa Luxemberg Foundation Headquarters competition was for a medium-sized highrise building in Berlin-Kreuzberg. This was a competition open to international architects in two stages. 155 Architects participated in the first stage, with 24 reaching the second stage. After final adjudication, one first prize, three third prizes and two honorable mentions were awarded. The winner was a young Berlin firm, Arge Kim Nalleweg Architekten with César Trujillo Moya. Juror Regula Lüscher lauded the winning design for its “transparency, simultaneously lacking a flashy, pretentious presence” in a neighborhood that was (mundanely) heterogeneous in character. It should be noted that the Arge Kim Lalleweg firm that won first place in this competition followed on their recent second place finish in the open competition for the expansion of the Vienna Museum.

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