Plans were developed for an addition to the Alte Staatsgalerie in the period from 1961 to 1967 and again in 1974 in the context of a city planning competition. In 1977, at the initiative of Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Hans Filbinger, an international, invitation-only competition was held, resulting in the unanimous selection of a design submitted by the architects James Stirling, Michael Wilford & Associates, London. The new building was opened in 1984.
James Stirling, who was born in Glasgow in 1926 and died in London in 1992, was already an award-winning architect in the 1970s (Brunner Prize, 1976; Alvar-Aalto Award, 1977) and is considered one of the world's most influential architects in the second half of the 20th century.
In Stuttgart, his design immediately adjacent to the Alte Staatsgalerie and connected to it at the gallery level by a »bridge« captivated the jury, especially with its topographical, terrace-like integration of the sloping landscape, its original idea of including a public walkway through the museum complex, and its respectful integration of the existing historical elements of the Old Staatsgalerie.
In his design, Stirling celebrated architecture as the »art of building« by incorporating many elements of the imposing and monumental style typical of museums in the 19th century. The strict U-shaped arrangement of the galleries corresponding to the layout of the neo-classicistic Alte Staatsgalerie, the open-air rotunda in the center of the new building reminiscent of the Alte Museum in Berlin designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and the Colosseum with its colossal ensemble of columns, gables, architraves, and stone facings all emphasize the function of the museum as a public building.
Stirling’s epoch-defining achievement is grounded in the combination of these historical elements with the modern vocabulary of forms associated with functionalistic architecture such as colored steel structures, exposed concrete, and curving members. The ambivalence of the forms and their contradictions and multiple layers imbue the museum with a dynamism that makes the building the perfect venue for displaying artwork of the 20th century.
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