Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Ulm Stadhaus Exhibition & Assembly Building

Ulm, Germany

1986 - 1993

Conceived as a programmatic and cultural complement to Ulm’s Münsterplatz and the historic mass of its cathedral, this Stadthaus establishes a modest, secular, civic presence within the main square of the city. The building houses a visitors’ center, a ticket office, and a café terrace on the ground floor, and a top-lit, multilevel gallery space-cum-lecture hall on the floors above. With its striking cylindrical form capped by three prominent roof skylights, the building imparts a decisively civic character to the mainly commercial frontage of the square.

The main body of the building derives its form from the geometry of the cathedral and the square. It is based on a nine-square structural bay system augmented on three sides by concentric peripheral walls modified and curtailed by intersecting axes and regulating lines.

The main drum form functions as a counterpoint to the cathedral as one enters the square from the west and southwest. An asymmetrical stair and a freestanding elevator afford access from the ground floor to the lecture hall and exhibition spaces above, while a loggia/bridge at the upper level links the restaurant to the entry foyer on the ground floor and the exhibition spaces above.

The building was designed to provide framed views of the cathedral and the square. The construction is reinforced concrete frame and blockwork throughout, with the inner nine-square cube faced in natural stone and the outer concentric screen walls and the restaurant clad in stucco. The northwest perimeter of the square is planted with sycamore trees to create an intimate pedestrian scale along the commercial frontage, while the parvis was re-created and repaved in accordance with a grid derived from the geometry of the cathedral.

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