Hamburg’s mayor Ole von Beust and US Consul General Karen Johnson officially laid the cornerstone of the new Hamburg-America-Center at Am Sandtorkai 48. The mayor told approximately 150 invited guests that this nine-story building is a singular construction, located on an exciting site in the Hafen City. He said, “This is a real part of the city where real people live,” and to prove his point; he said that just the day before he had laid another cornerstone, that time for a Kindergarten. He said the new building will reflect centuries of Hamburg-American cooperation, as is quite obvious after a visit to the new Ballinstadt Emigration Museum.
Consul Johnson, speaking in accent-free German, pointed out that the US consulate in Hamburg, the second one to be established in Europe, opened June 17, 1790, during the time of George Washington. The Hamburg-America Center will house US companies, companies with US connections as well as a restaurant, coffee shop, library, videothek and conference rooms. It will be the new home of the Amerikazentrum and will continue the tradition of the Amerika Haus which closed in 1997 to make room for an extension of the Elysee Hotel at Rothenbaumchaussee. Architect Richard Meier is known for using glass extensively, e.g., in Manhattan, and this building will be no exception, with unobstructed views over the Speicherstadt and the Hafen City. Construction will be completed at the end of 2008 or in spring 2009.
Objects put into the cornerstone were Hamburg newspapers from December 6, 2007, the construction plans and coins from Germany, the US, and Sweden (home of the Norrporten investment company which supports the project and was represented at the ceremony by Anders Wiklander). Richard Meier also designed the Rickmers shipping company office next to the US Consulate on the Alster.
The Amerikazentrum, currently located across the street at Am Sandtorkai 5, now houses the library, sponsors cultural events, and facilitates student exchanges. The president is Irmingard Zahn (former president of the AWC Hamburg), who also participated in the ceremony. For more information about this organization and its plans for moving into the HH-America Center, see www.amerikazentrum.de or call 040-70 38 36 88. It’s worth your while to become a member for just 35 EUR annually.
Anders Wiklander, US Consul General
Karen Johnson, Mayor Ole von Beust,
former US Consul Susan Elbow,
America Center president Irmgard Zahn
originally published in Currents Feb/Mar 2008