The Historical Museum in Frankfurt is one of the oldest institutions of its kind. It is located directly in the centre of the city, at the Römerberg and near the river Main. Until the 2010s, it was housed in an ensemble of historic buildings and in an annex building from the 1970s made of reinforced concrete. This more recent building had become unsuitable for further use due to technical problems concerning fire protection, escape routes, and contamination by harmful substances.
For this reason, the city held a competition for a new building with two primary goals: to make spatial improvements to the overall urban situation and to fulfill the specified museum requirements. After completion, the new exhibition building and the existing historic buildings will constitute a single entity.
As a first step, the old buildings were renovated by the office of Diezinger and Kramer, in order to accommodate the operations of the museum until completion of the supplemental new building.
The design for the extension envisions the creation of an urban plaza between the existing buildings and the additional exhibition spaces, delimited on its short sides by the so-called Stauferbau and, at the other end, one of the few half-timbered buildings, the “Haus Wertheym”, that has been spared from wartime destruction. Under this plaza is the circulation level, a lower lobby, which gives access to the exhibition levels on four floors. A special feature of the building is its roofscape, which is composed of two contiguous gable roofs joined lengthwise.
A museum that deals with the history of the city should itself be an example of how the city can be further developed. This is primarily a matter of care and diligence, which can be used to successfully correct the reconstruction, who did not care about the history. Yet it is the special nature of the institution that is to be made visible, in a new and, at the same time, familiar way.