The Sculpture Garden
Those who are conversant with the landscaping of the fifties and sixties enter into unknown territory when it comes to the preservation of monuments in historical gardens. The great master builder of the Modernism Mies van der Rohe, created a synthesis of the arts when he built the New National Gallery, of which the gardens are an inseparable element. Approaching from any direction, one encounters a striking building of symbolic import - the Cultural Forum's entry loge. The view of the forecourt in front of the main entrance, the terrace with its groups of trees and shrubs, and the tranquillity of the green space on the Reichpietsch Ufer are intrinsic parts of the gallery. The transparent glass hall allows for complete flexibility of exhibition design, enhancing the effect of the exhibits with the variable backdrop of the outer area. The museum section on the lower level and the intimacy of the sunken, walled sculpture court at the rear of the museum make for excellent contrast. The artistic significance of the open spaces lies in this fusion of architecture and art, and of man and nature.
The juxtapostion of sculptures by renowned artists such as Henry Moore, George Rickey, or even Alexander Calder, with the shrubs and trees and the architectural quality of the building, are the foundations of that "greater unity" Mies strove towards. So do the irregular rectangular shape of the beds, the choice of plants, and the limited but high-quality materials (e.g. granite from Striegau) used for structures such as benches, granite slabs, and fountains. Nowhere else in Europe can Mies‘s principles of design and understanding of nature be so clearly observed. By minimizing the concept to a basic raster, the shape and size of the building, the terrace, and sculpture garden have been defined. This facilitates orientation and provides a scale on which the dimensions of the inner and outer spaces may be grasped. Mies regarded the building and the gardens as a single entity, the museum area being extended to the garden and the terrace. The plants and trees, free to take on their natural shapes and colors, were to be an contrast to his geometrical structure. Mies‘s very choice of trees and shrubs reflect his views on the synthesis between nature and architecture: the "Acer saccharinum 'Wieri'" with their overhanging branches, the "Gleditsia triacanthos" and the "Amelanchier lamarckii" with their occasionally bizarre, carelessly drooping branches and glowing Autumn colours. The simple color scheme of his building ensures that nature's colors remain unsurpassed.