Designed to introduce important new civic functions into the primarily commercial Münsterplatz, the dynamic new building houses a visitors’ center, a ticket office, and a café terrace on the ground floor, combining these programs with a top-lit, multilevel gallery space-cum-lecture hall on the floors above.
The building offers a powerful focal point to visitors entering the square along the main axes of pedestrian access, which flow from the west and southwest. Once visitors arrive at the building, an asymmetrical stair and a freestanding elevator afford access from the ground floor to the lecture hall and exhibition spaces above, while a bridge at the upper level links the restaurant to both the entry foyer on the ground floor and the exhibition spaces above. All of the building’s interior spaces have been designed to provide framed views of the cathedral and the square. The northwest perimeter of the square is planted with sycamore trees to create an intimate pedestrian scale along the commercial frontage.
With its striking cylindrical form capped by three prominent skylights, the building derives its shape from a harmonious blending of the geometry of the cathedral with that of the town square. The building’s central drum functions as a visual counterpoint to the cathedral, while the nine-square structural bay system is augmented on three sides by concentric peripheral walls, which have been carefully modified by intersecting axes and regulating lines drawn from the surrounding urban landscape.