I visited Mainz last weekend to see Mahler’s Second played (outstandingly) by the Sinfonietta Mainz. During a pre-concert stroll, I couldn’t help noticing this gigantic building, placed directly on the banks of the Rhine:
The somber monotony of the concrete outer shell, the gloomy dark-brown metallic side-grills (an unmistakable reference to fences and prison-cell bars), the bunker-like shape of the whole — all mark this as one of Germany’s many grim memorials to the victims of National Socialism.
Oh wait, no, it’s the Mainz City Hall (G). Designed in 1973 (when else?) by two Danish architects. In fact, Mainz has taken a large part of its waterfront and old town and drenched it in concrete buildings that look just like this one. You can read a spirited defense of this mass of concrete and brown metal here (G).
I’m not buying it. Mainz as a whole may have its charms (nice cathedral), but its Rhine frontage, — which also features a large, ugly Hilton hotel — is hideous. Mainz has the ugliest city hall I’ve seen since leaving Boston.