They still exist, the wonderful success stories. The Wiesbaden entrepreneur Reinhard Ernst separated from his companies and founded Reinhard together with his wife

For 40 years, Reinhard Ernst has been assembling an impressive collection of abstract art from the post-war period, including everything that has status and reputation. The current 860 paintings and 50 sculptures have been donated to the foundation. When he decided to build a museum, only the Pritzker Prize winner Maki, who had also made a name for himself with museum buildings around the world, came into question as an architect.

The city of Wiesbaden wanted to build a city museum itself on the plot of land at Wilhelmstraße 1, but the financing failed. The alternative embarrassment project, a middle-class hotel, called the outraged citizens into action, and the majority of them decided in favor of Ernst’s offer to build a museum for abstract art.

In 2017, the city council approved the leasehold contract for 99 years. The foundation is responsible for the construction and operation of the museum. The opening is scheduled for next year.

Fumihiko Maki has its roots in Japanese architecture, alien to narrative, figurative elements, disciplined rather than playful, contemplative rather than excited. And in the pragmatic utilitarianism of his second home in the USA, where technically rational design was the rage in the 1960s.

In his theoretical discussions he never lost himself in cloudy philosophical esotericism. “Whatever formal values ​​are developed should serve the purpose and not itself. And the vessels for the art are, as far as possible, open white spaces where the art itself is the focus,” he says.

The conscious use of natural light, a basic motif of traditional Japanese architecture, is also his general theme in Wiesbaden. The play with light and shadow, insights and views determines the movement spaces. “Borrowed light”, as he calls it, is indirectly directed into the showrooms. It’s meant to light up the rooms, not the artworks; these are staged by artificial light sources.

If there is one recognizable “signature” of Fumihiko Maki, it is his penchant for composing cubes with changing angles and directions. In Wiesbaden, the calm, orthogonal integration into the city context remained the same.

Maki’s creed of “developing rich and human spaces that inspire visitors” and “avoiding iconic, overly personally expressive architecture” results in a building that transcends the fleeting zeitgeist.

“Making the Reinhard Ernst Museum” is the name of the exhibition currently being shown at Aedes in Berlin, which gives an impression of Maki’s architecture with photos, plans and various models as well as material samples.

A second exhibition presents the internationally acclaimed Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao – a contrasting program for sure, because Bilbao loves the unpretentious, rough design that is close to the users and residents of their buildings. Designing not for, but with people in collective processes is their motto. She is currently building a Cistercian monastery with the monks in Neuzelle, Brandenburg.