The museum was designed specifically to house the Frieder Burda collection of twentieth-century art. Its site also presented a unique challenge, as the new building had to blend into the landscape of the Lichtentaler Allee Park and—at the same time—harmonize with the classical profile of the adjacent Kunsthalle. In response, the new building is nestled amid the majestic trees of the park, while its overall form and proportions correspond to the elevated plinth and entablature of the Kunsthalle.
The three-story museum is accessed from a main portico facing east. At the second floor a glazed bridge links the building to the plinth of the Kunsthalle. This bridge has been delicately detailed so as to intrude as little as possible on the character of the existing museum. Upon entry, visitors turn right through the lobby to arrive at a monumental ramp, set on axis with the bridge linking to the Kunsthalle one floor above. This ramp provides the primary means of vertical circulation throughout the building, affording access to a major gallery suspended above the ground-floor space as well as to auxiliary exhibition volumes on both the lower ground floor and on mezzanine levels overlooking the entry.
The main exhibition space on the top floor, accessed via a bridge from the central ramp, extends across the full width of the building, giving the impression that the gallery is a volume floating free from the rest of the structure. At the same time, natural light can flow around this volume, penetrating to the other galleries on the lower levels.