central plan for the other events. The first design was based upon a longitudinal plan, but that was soon modified to become a central circular space with four semicircular apses that are reached through enormous arches. As built, the hall encloses almost 60,000 square feet (5,600 square meters) of floor space. It provides standing room for 10,000 people; the seating capacity is only 6,000. The 137-foot-high (42-meter) central space is roofed with a 212-foot-diameter (65-meter) dome, formed by 32 half-arches of reinforced concrete—left exposed for acoustic purposes—springing from the massive poetic substructure to a tension ring at the apex. In its day it was the widest monolithic dome in the world. The vast interior is lit by four tiers of curtained clerestory windows, supported by the half-acrches and continuous around the entire structure, which diminish in height as they rise. That gives the dome the appearance of a series of concentric rings. The apses, also structurally formed from reinforced concrete half-acrches, have walls glazed in the same manner, adding to the stunning impact of the space. Although the structural system was revolutionary, the spatial organization (and the overall form that it yielded) had a Renaissance quality, very like the Church of S. Maria della Consolazione (1503) at Todi, Italy, by Donato Bramante and Cola di Caprarola. Berg’s inspiration was complex: he drew upon the spirit of Gothic architecture and the esthetic theories of the Frenchman Durand and the Hollanders Lauweriks and Berlage. The monumentality of the huge building evokes the romantic, unbuildable Beaux Arts projects of Boullée and Ledoux; at the same time, Berg avoids ornament for its own sake. The result is that, artistically, the Jahrhunderthalle denies the çonfident inventiveness of its engineering; at least, that is the impression from outside the building.

The contract for the reinforced structure was won by the Dresden firm of Dyckerhoff and Widmann; the Lolat-Eisenbeton Company of Breslau undertook the smaller associated buildings. Work began at the end of August 1911; the foundations were completed two and a half months later, and the building was completed in the amazingly short time of fifteen months, well before the centenary celebrations were due to begin.

The Jahrhunderthalle was a landmark building, and while some architectural writers dismiss Berg’s work as “equivocal,” others believe that the “structural audacity” he demonstrated in this magnum opus had great influence on the German Expressionist architects (including Poelzig) who flourished between 1910 and 1925. Indeed, Jerzy Ilkosz (1994, 81) has asserted that it “was the first major achievement in the pantheon of Expressionist architecture.” Following World War II the Germans were expelled from Breslau and in August 1945 the city, again named Wroclaw, reverted to Poland. The building was renamed Hala Ludowa (the People’s Hall).

See also

Shell concrete

Further reading

Hasegawa, Akira. 1997. “The Birth and Background of Max Berg’s ‘Century Hall,’ the Inspiration of Artist Max Berg.” Space Design (December): 83–90.

Ilkosz, Jerzy. 1994. “Expressionist Inspiration.” Architectural Review 194 (January): 76–81.

James, Kathleen. 1994. Between Nationalism and Expressionism: Max Berg’s Jahrhunderthalle and Bruno Taut’s Monument des Eisens. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jantar Mantar

Jaipur, India

Jantar Mantar (“instruments and formulae”), the open-air observatory designed by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, India’s last great classical astronomer, stands at the entrance to the palace in the old city of Jaipur. Built between 1728 and 1734, the group of large, modern-looking masonry structures is in fact a collection of astronomical instruments. They measure local time to an accuracy of a few seconds; the sun’s declination, azimuth, and altitude; the declination of fixed stars and planets; and they predict solar eclipses. It is the largest of the observatories established by Jai Singh II in five principal Hindustan cities; others were in Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, and Varanasi (Benares). Only two survive: the one at Mathura was quarried for its stone and those at Ujjain and Varanasi are partly in ruins. Jantar Mantar is a remarkable architectural achievement: large buildings