In 1951, the Court began working in the Prinz-Max-Palais. This building, which was constructed in the 1880s, is located in the city centre of Karlsruhe, near the square that today is called Europaplatz. It was named after Prince Max of Baden, who lived there between 1900 and 1918. Prince Max of Baden was successor to the throne of Baden and the last Imperial Chancellor of the German Empire.
The Prinz-Max-Palais soon proved to be too small. As early as in 1959, Gebhard Müller, the Federal Constitutional Court’s President of the time, expressed the wish for a new building. In 1965, construction work for the complex at Karlsruhe’s Schlossbezirk, or palace district, began. It is situated on the site of the court theatre, which was destroyed during World War II, between the palace square and the botanical garden. The complex was constructed by Berlin architect Paul Baumgarten. By its open structure, he intended to express democratic transparency and to distinguish the building from the 19th-century-style palaces of justice. The Federal Constitutional Court moved into the new complex in the spring of 1969. Construction costs amounted to almost 20 million DM.
The “Baumgarten building”
The “Baumgarten building” consists of five pavilions. They are connected by a straight passageway which is more than 70 metres long:
- The tallest building is the courtroom building. This is where the Court’s transparency becomes particularly apparent. Glass walls provide insights into the courtroom with its federal eagle, a wooden sculpture by Hans Kindermann that weighs several tonnes. The ground floor of the courtroom building houses a large entrance hall as well as the plenary room. A reception room and the press room are situated on the mezzanine floor.
- The adjacent Justices’ building is also named “Justices’ Circle” due to its layout. It “floats” above ground on steel pillars. The offices and deliberation room of the First Senate are located on the first floor while those of the Second Senate are located on the second floor.
- The other side of the passageway, facing the Botanical Garden, has the library building. The extensive holdings of the Federal Constitutional Court’s library are stored in two subterranean storeys. The ground floor accommodates the library offices, a reading room, and an exhibition on the Court’s early years in the Prinz-Max-Palais.
- The buildings which are situated near the Palace house the Court’s administration and some of the Justices’ judicial clerks.
- The building situated near the Staatliche Kunsthalle today houses further office space, a meeting room and a lounge. Until 1995, this pavilion served as a cafeteria, with a public restaurant and a terrace facing the Botanical Garden.
Since 1982, the Federal Constitutional Court has rented additional office space in the north-western wing of the Castle. These offices are connected to the Court by a subterranean passageway.
Most of the judicial clerks are accommodated in the modern extension building that was designed by Berlin architect Michael Schrölkamp and completed in 2007. This is a three-storey building with a greened façade facing the Botanischer Garten, which is connected to the “Baumgarten building” via a glass passageway.
Renovation of the “Baumgarten building”
Between 2011 and 2014, the “Baumgarten building” was fully renovated, the costs amounting to around EUR 55 million. The preservation and modernisation of the building, which is a listed monument, required extensive construction measures, such as an energy-related overhaul, a comprehensive renovation of the building’s technical installations, as well as improvements to the fire protection system. During this time, the members of the Court and part of the staff moved into the so-called “Waldstadt offices” in the converted former General-Kammhuber barracks.
Here you will find a gallery with images of the building complex in the Karlsruhe Schlossbezirk.