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Modernisation

During the Second World War, the ministerial complex suffered a lot less damage that many of the historical buildings of Dresden. The war left indelible marks on the western stairwell and roof. However, the conditions within the complex after the Peaceful Revolution were such that they no longer supported the requirements of the headquarters of a state government and its ministries. The decision to refurbish the building as headquarters for the Prime Minister and the State Chancellery was made in August 1990. Deciding factors were the central location of the complex, as well as its quick availability. During the remodeling phase, the facade was reinstated to its original appearance. The golden crown, weighing 600kg was also reinstated to its original position at the apex of the centre building. After 1945, the crown had been removed, and replaced by a peace dove. The restoration of the former royal Saxon state emblem was not undertaken as a political statement, but rather for its monument preservation aspects.

The eastern staircase during refurbishment, 1998

The eastern staircase during refurbishment, 1998
(© SMF Brochure »Saxon State Chancellery«)

The interior of the complex presented in various stages of repair after the Peaceful Revolution. The spaciousness and openness of the complex from the time around 1900 had been compromised severely by various structural additions. The layout of the stairways in the annexes in particular had been completely changed with the addition of the Plenar Hall for the Dresden district senate and a data centre. The refurbishment of the complex began in 1994 in the north-western wing. 24 months later, work began in the second section at the south-western wing and the southern part of the central building. The third section dealt with the reconstruction of the north-eastern wing, the south wing, and the northern part of the central building. During the fourth and last part of the project, the western part of the building was renovated, which today is home to the Saxon State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture.

The objective for the overall renovation project was on the one hand to reinstate the most important rooms to their former glory, but at the same time adding all the components required for running a state-of-the-art government office. This conundrum caused for example heated discussions regarding the addition of elevators in the central area. In the end, the design by the architect Sandro Graf von Einsiedel, which included glass elevators for the western and eastern periphery of the central hall was accepted. Before the restoration began, in 1990, the central hall still looked quite drab. The addition of the central chandelier with a diameter of 4,6 meters and matching lamps gave the whole room more light. The painting of the pelicans and lions also underwent meticulous restauration.

The great assembly hall, the »beehive« (left) and murals (right) during restoration in 1990

The great assembly hall, the »beehive« (left) and murals (right) during restoration in 1990
(© SMF Brochure »Saxon State Chancellery«)

A state-of-the-art media and citizens' centre was added on the ground floor. Located directly underneath the »beehive«, the room is centrally positioned and easily accessible. In addition to its main function as a venue for press conferences, it is also used as a lecture hall for visitor groups and as a TV studio. The great assembly hall with its sophisticated design features was particularly challenging for the restorers. The hand-carved paneling had to be uncovered and restored, and the arbour-like painted designs, which only remained as fragments, had to be completely restored. After all the work has now been concluded, the blue and green wall and ceiling decorations have restored the exciting yet warm ambiance of the »beehive«.
 
All offices were done in white throughout. The floor coverings and plinths match the materials used in the hallways. A dining room and canteen have been added in the basement in place of the former cashier and safe rooms. The total cost for the restauration project came to 46.1 million euro. Initially, 5.1 million euro had been invested during the first construction phase to cover services ensuring the continued operation of the Saxon State Government during construction.

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© Institution