Shortly after the reunification of Germany, the Berlin Senate resolved to rebuild the damaged Oberbaum Bridge as one of the key connections between the city's former East and West sectors. The existing bridge, incorporating an overhead viaduct for an electric railway, opened in 1896, connecting Warschauer Strasse to the east with Skalitzer Strasse to the west, and was damaged during World War II, when military commandos blew up the center span. The center span was temporarily reconstructed after the war, and the subway ran through the viaduct until August 1961, after which the bridge was used solely by pedestrians.
In 1991, municipal authorities invited Santiago Calatrava to provide expert advice on the reconstruction of this historic structure, at which time he designed a center span using a slender steel framework. Subsequently, political disagreements arose over the question of whether the bridge should accommodate a tramway. In 1993, the Senate's planning authority decided in favor of the tramway, which in the planners' opinion would have overburdened Calatrava's proposed structure. Without asking for Calatrava himself to review the proposal, the authority commissioned the firm of Wachendorf & König to build a concrete bridge for motor and tram traffic and gave Calatrava the commisssion for the overhead railway viaduct alone. Calatrava's original design proposed rebuilding the center span on two levels. The roadway and tram run on the lower level, while the railway runs on the upper level along a viaduct on the upstream side of the structure. The viaduct is a street frame structure 22-meter-long (72 feet) with a lower bracing arch.
1991 - 1996