The story of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport never quite ends. Located just south of the city’s hip Kreuzberg neighborhood and only fifteen minutes by bike from the city center, the disused former Nazi complex—with its terminal, hangars, and massive airfield—occupies nearly 1,000 acres of prime real estate in the ever-growing German capital. In any other metropolis, this land would have been snatched up by a developer years ago, but in Berlin, creative reuse has prevailed over conventional narratives of redevelopment. Envisioned by Adolf Hitler in the thirties as part of his plan to redevelop Berlin into Germania—a regimented, neo-classical world-capital—the airport was designed by Earnst Sagebiel and completed in 1941 under the direction of head Nazi architect Albert Speer. With a sweeping semi-circular form meant to evoke an eagle in flight, the building is in many ways typical of heavy-handed fascist German architecture. Thin rectangular windows elegantly cascade along the walls of the terminal hall, a gesture that recalls the elongated light beams used by Speer in his Cathedral of Light at Nazi Party rallies in Nuremberg. Crowds exceeding one million likewise gathered at Tempelhof to hear Hitler speak.
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