Berlin city hall is pushing to transform the Galeries Lafayette building into a state library
What: Berlin is pushing to transform the Galeries Lafayette building into a library at the end of the lease.
Why it is important: Many wonder about the feasibility of such a project, not to mention the fact that this has been a historical location for the store
Berlin's culture senator, Joe Chialo, is proposing the transformation of the French department store, Galeries Lafayette, located on Berlin's Friedrichstrasse, into the city's first central library. The city has debated the need for a central library for over a century.
Chialo is looking to purchase the building, Quartier 207, currently leased by Lafayette, from its US owner, Tishman Speyer, estimating the project's cost at EUR 589m (GBP 510m).
With the store's lease ending in 2024 and considering challenging retail conditions, the space could become a library by 2026. While some are sceptical about the building's suitability and costs, librarians and the German Library Association view the proposal as a once-in-a-century opportunity.
The building, known for its architectural appeal, offers a spacious and light-filled structure, which could rejuvenate the area and provide a communal center for the city.