Klaus Wowereit, Berlin's mayor since 2001, has watched his city become one of world's coolest artistic meccas. But under his guidance, the city has devolved into a backward-looking architectural wasteland in which urban planning only favors the rich.
In an era when other cities have been zapping themselves awake with shock architecture, Berlin has been dreaming of rebuilding the old Baroque city palace and embracing a retro architecture vaguely evocative of the imperial era under the Kaiser. This anti-modern, indifferent view of aesthetics has ruled the day. Nevertheless, the city has become a mecca for several generations of artists, nightlife revelers and optimists from around the world.
Indeed, it's a paradox: Berlin, which is internationally recognized as one of the hottest cities of the 21st century, remains intellectually and architecturally waist-deep in the 19th century.
This contradiction has given rise to a new era that is the direct result of Wowereit's policies during his nearly 12 years at the helm of the city -- an era that has been dominated by key questions about the future of the city, yet without any concrete answers from the mayor's office.