The Europa-Center is a building complex on the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin, notable for its high-rise tower. During the 1960s it became one of the iconic sights of West Berlin, along with the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It is a historically preserved building.
Soon after the division of the city by the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the situation changed. New buildings were politically desirable and were encouraged, as symbols of West Berlin's vitality and durability. The Breitscheidplatz, a square in the central part of the western half of the city, needed further improvement in addition to the recently finished Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The successful Berlin businessman and investor Karl Heinz Pepper was appointed to oversee construction. He commissioned Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg to design and build an office and shopping centre following the American model. Egon Eiermann, architect of the Memorial Church, was involved as an artistic advisor. Construction work began in 1963, and on 2 April 1965 the Europa-Center was inaugurated by Mayor Willy Brandt.
What had been built was a complex with a total floor space of 80,000 square metres, divided into distinct units: a two-storey foundation with a basement and two inner courtyards, a cinema, a hotel, an apartment block, and the box-shaped high-rise with a height of 86m, 21 storeys and 13,000 square metres of office space, at the time the only one of its kind in Berlin and hence a defining feature of Berlin's urban geography, frequently referenced in other designs. Numerous renovations and modernisations since then have served to increase the attractiveness and hence the commercial success of the building. For example the inner courtyards have been given canopies, and the skating rink in one of the courtyards was removed in 1979. In 1995 the operators of the complex gave the number of shops and food outlets as around 100, with between 20,000 and 40,000 visitors daily.
On top of the high-rise, and visible across Berlin, is a large metal star-in-a-circle symbol, the logo of car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. It weighs 15,000kg, has an outer diameter of 10 metres, completes approximately two revolutions a minute, and glows at night with the help of 68 fluorescent tubes. It can be tilted back for maintenance work, and in stormy weather it automatically turns into the wind.
The materials used in the bulding structure, Glass and aluminium, are in correspondence with modern architecture. Europa Center's crowning glory was and remains the Mercedes star that sits at the top the building. It measures ten meters (32 feet) in diameter, and rotates once every minute. It can be clearly seen from many areas of Berlin even and when it's cloudy. You can catch the lift to the 20th floor to enjoy the panorama. Europa-Center was built on the site of the Romanisches Cafe, a popular hang-out of 1920s artists and intellectuals.
Moreover, the Europa Center is the home of the cabaret "Die Stachelschweine" (engl. "The Hedgehogs"). A permanent exhibition of the Berlin Wall is shown there, too.Outside the main entrance is a popular meeting place which is called the water ball and is a hemispherical granite fountain. Inside the Europa Centre is a 13 metre green liquid clock spread over 3 floors called The Clock of Flowing Time. It has 12 larger balls, which represent each hour and 30 smaller balls which represent every 2 minutes. It all re-starts at 1am & 1pm when the liquid empties except for 1 ball. Another feature in the centre is the Lotus Fountain which is located outside the Tiffany Café. 2 of the more unusual stores are a games workshop with a large window display and a shop selling samuri swords and knives.