On the edge of Tiergarten, surrounded by greenery, Werner Düttmann erected the Akademie der Künste (West) as a generous, yet modest ensemble with three different building units linked to one another via courtyards and glazed corridors. The building was made possible by a donation from the Berlin-born American Henry H. Reichhold, who covered all the construction costs on condition that Düttmann be the architect. The GDR’s Akademie der Künste had already been formed in 1950; its West Berlin counterpart was founded four years later at a Dahlem villa, but it lacked space for public events. On a site that had originally been intended by Interbau for additional residential buildings, a large, windowless block clad with exposed concrete panels was erected as an exhibition area with its own atrium, along with a theater and foyer and a building with several storeys to house offices and studios. The entrance is sunken and located to the west in the glazed and recessed base of the exhibition hall.
A wide staircase leads to the exhibition space on the first floor, which is U-shaped around a courtyard and provided with light in the northern part by way of a saw tooth roof with skylights. Its open construction and its grain-cut timber parquet flooring invoke elements of factory architecture. The architecture of the theater, called the “Studio”, speaks another language, with its many angles, jutting out towards the west. This multi-purpose hall resists the axial and orthogonal quality of the complex’s overall floor plan and that of the other buildings. With its asymmetrical shape, its copper roof, zigzagging towards the ground, and its windowless brick walls, it represents a new take on expressionist form. This impression continues inside the building with its oblique wall and ceiling surfaces; the askew wooden paneling of the ceiling amplifies the building’s dramatically expressive gesture. The hall with its two audience spaces in front of and behind the stage is beneath ground level. The large, yet intimate, foyer features a bar.
The administration and studio building to the east, called the “Blue Building” due to its original color, houses offices, meeting rooms, and studio apartments with small loggias on the top floors. It is l inked to the main building by way of a courtyard and a glazed corridor. The color and shape of the building, the windows, and facades take up motifs of modernist architecture and the Bauhaus. Walter Rossow, who had already been responsible for the overall landscaping in the Hansaviertel, designed the courtyards and free spaces around the building as extensions of the interiors, with the slate flooring continuing outdoors, with views of the courtyard and with accessible gardens of reeds and grasses.