Unter den Linden
Bebelplatz, Alte Bibliothek
Bebelplatz (Bebel Square), Alte Bibliothek (Old Library), Bebelplatz, Mitte;
1775-80 by Georg Friedrich Boumann in accordance with plans by Georg Christian Unger, reconstruction 1963-69 by Werner Kötteritzsch
The western end of Bebelplatz is occupied by the Baroque façade of the Old Library constructed in 1775-80, which was dubbed the "commode" because of its sweeping, concave shape. This was the first independent library structure in Berlin and was built to house the Royal Book Collection founded in 1661. King Friedrich II had instructed the master builder Georg Christian Unger to base his library design on Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach's 1725 plans for the Michael Wing of the Imperial Palace in Vienna, which had gained renown through engravings and models. Construction was directed by Georg Friedrich Boumann the Younger. The sweeping façade above the high pedestal is strikingly accentuated through the colossal Corinthian arrangement of the protruding center and corner structures.
The Old Library was gutted by fire in 1945; only the enclosing walls survived. Under the direction of Werner Kötteritzsch the façade on the square was reconstructed to its historical appearance in 1963-69; the interior was refashioned according to the requirements for use as a modern university building.