Pictured below is the entrance to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin building, or Berlin State Library, in the German capital. The building is a sprawling piece of post-war architectural modernism by architects Hans Scharoun and Edgar Wisniewski. It’s an architectural landmark that’s a bit under-appreciated compared to Berlin’s other, more famous and iconic structures. The library is aging — some parts not as handsomely as others — and thus undergoing some renovation, as the photos attest. The massive library is captured beautifully on film as one of the principal settings of German director Wim Wenders’ classic 1980s movie “Wings of Desire.” See film clip below.
The “Ampel Man” symbol is a beloved design artifact from the days of the former Communist East Germany and the country’s transportation infrastructure. Ampel Man or Ampelmannchen, in German, was the hat-wearing icon used in traffic lights at pedestrian street crossings in the GDR.
In spite of German re-unification, the symbol has endured throughout parts of the former East Germany and can be found throughout East Berlin. The icon has been riffed on and subject of design appropriation often, as befits such a well-established symbol. We recently spotted this use of the symbol on the men’s washroom door in a Berlin building, where Ampel Man sits on a toilet.