Most of the gritty industry of the Rhine-Ruhr Region has moved on, yet Düsseldorf continues to thrive as a livable economic, political, and cultural center.
With a population of less than 600,000, Düsseldorf serves as an urban focus to a region of more than 12 million people with a concentration of service industries, world class cultural attractions and urban amenities, including higher learning, museums, fashion, entertainment, dining, and sports.
While postwar reconstruction has its share of merely functional, unimaginative, and dull architecture, political and economic events of the past twenty years have brought about a stunning transformation.
As Düsseldorf architects work abroad, international practices have discovered Düsseldorf. Works by Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, Helmut Jahn, and Norman Foster can all be found within walking distance of one another.
Prominent among new projects is Kö-Bogen by Daniel Libeskind, situated at the elegant Königsallee and the Hofgarten. Part of a major urban redevelopment comprised of a large city park atop an underground crossing of automobile and light rail traffic, this AIA Europe event will coincide roughly with its completion.
All this and more — Düsseldorf is moving to the world stage of awareness in design and architecture.—Karl Hartnack AIA, Conference Committee Chair
In an email dated 18 October 2012, Karl Hartnack relates some conference detail:
While much development has taken place in Düsseldorf during the last 20 years and there is much to see, we can only touch the major projects, perhaps with an extension on Monday, October 14.
The Kö-Bogen, a reconfiguration of the traffic arteries that transverse downtown Düsseldorf, promises to increase the attractiveness of Düsseldorf as a shopping, social, and entertainment city for the more than 12 million inhabitants of the Rhine-Ruhr and other surrounding areas. It will convert an urban no-man's-land into a clearly defined nucleus of the city.
The Kö-Bogen is the new northern Terminus of the Königsallee — “Kö” in popular talk — the major upscale shopping street of Düsseldorf and will connect this with the Hofgarten, the central park of the city. While much of the project is underground and parts will still be under construction at the time of our visit, the building at the transition of Kö to Hofgarten has been designed by Daniel Libeskind and promises to become a major architectural attraction among its already well-known neighbors.
The iconic 1960’s “Dreischeibenhaus” was once the tallest building in Germany, known as the Phoenix Hochhaus. Located directly adjacent to and essentially part of the Kö-Bogen, it is being completely remodeled into a LEED certified building and will also be completed by the time of our visit. The architect is HPP – Hentrich, Petschnigg Partners, the successor to the original designers.
Also just steps away is the Richard Meier designed Peek und Cloppenburg fashion and department store for which an addition will also have been completed at the time of our conference.
With projects by Frank Gehry, William Alsop, Helmut Jahn, Karl-Heinz Petzinka, and many others, the harbour area of Düsseldorf is an extension of the city through transformation of a working harbour for transport of goods into a center for new media. It presents an opportunity to feature work by a new generation of architects and contains not only offices and shops, but artist’s studios, furniture showrooms, television studios and broadcasting facilities; hotels, cinemas and restaurants join this residential area that formerly was home to harbour workers.
The reconstruction of the Düsseldorf airport following a fire in April 1996 and the withdrawal of the British military from their quarters near the airport gave the impetus for the reconfiguration of the airport and the creation of Airport City, a collection of services whose proximity to the airport was particularly desirable.
During the past decade, Airport City has become home to countless companies active throughout Germany and Europe, a major hotel, a radiological diagnostic center, and a showroom for Porsche. Christoph Blume, an architect, former head of the planning department of Düsseldorf, and now general manager of the Düsseldorf Airport, will lead us through Airport City, explaining the past, present and future concepts and also lead us through Düsseldorf Airport.
Düsseldorf is a thriving city. It has many hotels of all categories, from a stunning new youth hostel with individual single or double rooms to upscale luxury accommodations, all within easy walking distance or one or two tram stops from the conference venue.
The quality and variety of Düsseldorf restaurants are legend.
Look for more information on this conference in Summer 2013 with registration to open thereafter.