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(Despite appearances all the buildings with the exception of the Brandenburg Gate itself, and an interior section of the Akademie der Kuenste, are post-1989 reconstructions).
Pariser Platz was originally laid out between 1732 and 1734 as part of Berlin's second Baroque expansion outwards from the historical city center. Its original name was just "Viereck" or "Quarree", both meaning literally "square" - it was one of three new ornamental plazas laid out during this period, the others being the "Octogon" (now Leipziger Platz) and "Rondell" (now Mehringplatz). It received its current name in 1814 following the capture of Paris by Prussian troops. By 1850 it was surrounded by buildings in largely classiscist style, which remained largely unchanged until the Second World War.
Pariser Platz was heavily damaged, but not completely destroyed, during the War, and several buildings were in repairable condition, including the Hotel Adlon. In the weeks following capitulation this building burned down however, the story being that this occurred during a particularly racous party celebrated by Soviet army officers.
After reunification, there was much debate about the future of Pariser Platz, particularly whether it should be reconstructed as it was prior to the war, or adapted to the needs of a modern city. Particularly controversial was whether road traffic should be allowed to traverse the square and the Brandenburg Gate, as it straddles the city's main east-west axis, and there were even suggestions that a road should be built around the gate. Eventually it was decided to carry out what is known as "critical reconstruction", whereby the buildings around the square were rebuilt more or less in their original form, but with varying degrees of modern architecture: ranging from the Hotel Adlon's faithful copy of the prewar building to the modernist glass fassade of the Akademie der Kuenste.
Following the completion of the US Embassy, changes will be made to the square's ornamental layout to accomodate that country's need for enhanced security.
Most prominent is the Hotel Adlon, a reconstruction of the pre-war building. Next door is the Akademie der Kuenste (Academy of Arts), with modernist archictecture which contains a segment of the original structure. The north side of the square is dominated by the French Embassy, and in the southwest corner the new US Embassy is taking shape. Adjacent to the US Embassy is the DG Bank building by Frank Gehry - from the outside comparatively unspectacular, but viewed from above the bank's huge oval glass roof can be seen.
The Kennedys (0.1 km), Hotel Adlon (0.1 km), Brandenburg Gate (0.1 km), Platz des 18. März (0.1 km), French Embassy in Berlin (0.1 km), Brandenburger Tor (Station) (0.1 km), The British Embassy in Berlin (0.2 km), Hungarian Embassy (0.2 km), Holocaust Memorial (0.3 km)