Berlin Philharmonic Hall
Home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, this building enjoys the rare distinction of acclaim for both its acoustics and its architecture. Indeed it serves as a reference in both professions.

The Philharmonie lies on the south edge of the city's Tiergarten and just west of the former Berlin Wall, an area that for decades suffered from isolation and drabness but that today offers ideal centrality, greenness, and accessibility. Its cross street and postal address is Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, named for the orchestra's longest-serving principal conductor. The neighborhood, often dubbed the Kulturforum, can be reached on foot from the Potsdamer Platz station. Actually a two-venue facility with connecting lobby, the Philharmonie comprises a Großer Saal of 2,440 seats for orchestral concerts and a chamber-music hall, theKammermusiksaal, of 1,180 seats. Though conceived together, the smaller venue was added only in the 1980s.

Hans Scharoun designed the hall, which was constructed over the years 1960-1963. It is a singular building, asymmetrical and tentlike, with the main concert hall in the shape of a pentagon. The seating offers excellent positions from which to view the stage through the irregularly increasing height of the seat rows. The stage is at the center of the hall, with seats surrounding it on all sides. The Philharmonie is highly regarded for the quality of its acoustics. Its typical vineyard style seat arrangement was first introduced through this architecture and became a model for other concert halls including the Denver concert hall, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the Sydney Opera House.

On 20 May 2008, a fire broke out at the hall. One-quarter of the roof underwent considerable damage as firefighters cut openings to reach the flames beneath the roof. The hall interior sustained water damage but was otherwise "generally unharmed." Firefighters limited damage using foam. The cause of the fire was attributed to welding work, and no serious damage was caused either to the structure or interior of the building. Concert activity resumed, as scheduled, on 1 June 2008 with a concert by the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.


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