The highest achievements of Modernism reflect a rigorous idealism an exploration of the principles of architecture.  Modernist painting unveiled the nature of painting itself, while modernist sculpture revealed the means by which art related to space, much in the way that architecture revealed the means by which light related to space and human scale:  all rejected demands their art serve decorative or illustrative or sentimental functions. Modernism’s revolutionary potential was realized by work that stripped away illusion with rigorous technique. The Museum for the Frieder Burda Collection is a modern building of differing form, informally related to a garden of picturesque character; it is a pedestrian friendly place with a special character and human scale. 

The new museum for twentieth- and twenty-first-century art has been designed to integrate into the lush landscape of the Lichtentaler Allee Park and, at the same time, to harmonize in scale with the classical profile of the adjacent Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden. Great efforts were taken to preserve as many trees as possible on the site, so that the Museum Frieder Burda would be harmoniously incorporated into the nature surrounding it.  The overall form and proportions of the new building correspond to the elevated plinth and entablature of the Neoclassical Kunsthalle, but each institution maintains its own tectonic identity.

Nestled amid the existing majestic trees of the Lichtentaler Park, the new three-story structure is accessed from a main portico facing east to the main footpath thru the park.  At the second floor a glazed bridge links the building to the plinth of the Kunsthalle. This bridge has been delicately detailed so as to intrude as little as possible on the character of the existing museum.  The Museum Frieder Burda is thought of as both an independent museum as well as a fraternal adjunct to the Kunsthalle.  Therefore, the resulting building connection, a glass bridge, is like an umbilical cord that can be opened or closed. A lower level exterior courtyard embraces the building on its south elevation, dramatically enhancing the museum’s connection to the surrounding landscape of the serene Lichtentaler Allee. 

Upon entry, visitors turn right through a dramatic entrance atrium, the lobby/reception area, to arrive at a spacious transverse four-story ramp hall set on axis with the bridge link to the Kunsthalle one floor above.  Together with an adjacent elevator, this primary means of vertical circulation, the ramp, affords access to a second major gallery suspended above the ground-floor gallery and also to auxiliary exhibition spaces on both the lower ground floor and on  the mezzanine level overlooking the entry. The grand ramp is historically a feature in a continuous circulation sequence.  But I prefer to think of this ramp as an event in itself, more a picturesque and less a sequential element in the spatial whole.  I hope that visitors will experience circulation through the building as a succession of minor shocks or jolts; movement through the building tends to be interrupted by stop effects and contra axes when the slope of the ramp ends at the entrance to the galleries

Light pours into the crisp white rectilinear galleries from glazed walls, which are faced with sunscreens.  The main upper exhibition volume accessed by the ramp hall via a bridge, allows for views to the surrounding park and to the lower level.  The recessed floor plate of the upper gallery and the bounding walls of lower gallery also enable natural light to penetrate to the lower level.  Controlled natural light exists in most of the exhibition spaces, reflecting distinct ideas of how space affects the viewing of art.  Louvres on the south façade help control the amount of light that enters the gallery spaces throughout the day. 

Frieder Burda was a passionate and dedicated collector of contemporary art.  His eye and his mind were focused in the most extraordinary manner, so that his love of art and his love of experiencing great works of art are an integral part of his life.  His enthusiasm for painting and sculpture is contagious and so it is a great honor for me to work with him to create a work of art, a work of architecture, in which it will be possible to experience art and space in an equal manner and to view his unique collection, which spans the art of the past one hundred years, in a harmonious environment. 

The richness and the luminosity of the art in the Frieder Burda Collection not complements the works of the brilliant artists represented, but the interconnections and the relationships of conception and their means of expression will be viewed in a new light.  The changing weather of the day, the changing seasons of the year make the daylight in the museum illuminate the art in a manner that can never be achieved by artificial light. Light is the key material that not only illuminates the town of Baden-Baden and the Lichtentaler Allee with a clear translucent quality, but pervades the interior spaces of the Museum as well.  This enables the visitor to view the works of art during the day in natural light, like the conditions under which most of the artists created them. The Museum Frieder Burda will be as conceptually and physically radiant as hopefully, the experience of being there will be as well. 

Richard Meier


BauherrStiftung Frieder Burda
ArchitekturbüroRichard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, New York
Beauftragter ArchitektRichard Meier
Design PartnerBernhard Karpf
ProjektarchitektStefan Scheiber
Örtliche BauleitungDipl.-Ing. Peter W. Kruse, Baden-Baden


Grundstücksfläche3.642 m²
Bebaute Grundstücksfläche2.220 m²
Bruttogrundrissfläche4.103 m²
Bruttorauminhalt23.300 m³


Beauftragung des Architekturbüros Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP 3. Juli 2001
Einreichung des Bauantrags27. April 2002
Baugenehmigung1. Juli 2002
Erster Spatenstich26. September 2002
Richtfest10. Oktober 2003
FertigstellungSeptember 2004
Eröffnung22. Oktober 2004