Date of Degree

6-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor(s)

John V. Maciuika

Committee Members

Rose-Carol Washton Long

Marta Gutman

Jeffry Diefendorf

Subject Categories

Architectural History and Criticism | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Modern Art and Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning

Keywords

Federal Republic of Germany, National Identity, Egon Eiermann, Capital Cities, Planungsgruppe Stieldorf

Abstract

This dissertation explores the physical transformation of Bonn in the postwar period, with a particular focus on the 1960s and 1970s, as the city accommodated the West German federal government. Bonn’s long campaign in the 1960s to redraw its municipal borders and the federal government’s construction of several high-rises in the city and its neighbor, Bad Godesberg, were the most concrete markers of Bonn’s evolution as a capital city in this period. The complex political processes and sometimes bitter conflicts behind each of these developments paralleled the gradual and successful entrenchment of democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany. At the same time, the close entanglement of Bonn’s urban space and federal architecture with West German national identity confounds our expectations about the ways that capital cities represent the values of the political systems and cultures that build them. Individually and collectively, Bonn’s government buildings offered little in the way of symbolic forms onto which citizens could project their growing sense of national identity and attachment to the democratic institutions that they housed. At the local level, the public universally despised the invasion of their cherished landscape. By focusing instead on the processes behind the planning initiatives and the reception of the new buildings, this dissertation demonstrates that Bonn’s perennially unfinished and provisional federal districts perfectly expressed the conflicting forces at work as West Germans consolidated their identity as members of a democratic and pluralistic civil society.

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