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Germany

Costs Put Brakes on Porsche Museum But Finishing Line in Sight

Over-spending and delays have hit the Porsche Museum, currently under construction in the German city of Stuttgart, the sports car manufacturer said. The opening is now scheduled for December.

The new porsche museum

Porsche wants the museum to be a new architectural landmark

No precise opening date has been set for the prestige project, which will be supplanting a more modest corporate museum, but the inauguration is expected to take place by the end of the year, the carmaker said on Wednesday, April 2.

Construction of what has been billed as a new architectural landmark for the region began in 2005 at the company campus in the suburb of Zuffenhausen, and was supposed to have been completed early last year.

The 5,600 square meters (60,277 square feet) of display space is to showcase 80 immaculately preserved Porsche cars, replacing the old, 600-square-meter museum, which only had room for 20 of the company's collection of 300 historic cars.

But the ambitious scale of the undertaking caused hitches early on. Designed by the Delugan Meissl architectural office in Vienna, the triangular museum built on concrete stilts is a unique project requiring complex engineering -- and it soon became clear that the original completion deadline would not be met, despite the 40 different companies hired to see it through.

At a press conference Wednesday, spokesman Anton Hunger moreover said the budget of 50 million euros ($78 million) had proved insufficient and would rise to a "high two-digit number in the millions."

Building the best

The Mercedes museum

The Mercedes museum

Recent years have seen Germany's luxury carmakers racing to build the biggest and best museum, with BMW in Munich and Volkswagen in Wolfsburg among the companies spending fortunes on exhibition spaces and theme parks.

Porsche's eagerly-awaited futuristic-looking museum is specifically designed to rival the nearby Mercedes-Benz center, an 83 million euro facility hailed an architectural masterpiece when it opened in 2006, and one which fast became a popular tourist magnet.

Positioned directly outside the main gate of the Daimler factory in the Untertuerkheim district, the spiral building was designed by the UN Studio of Amsterdam and is based on a unique cloverleaf concept using three overlapping circles with the center removed to form a triangular atrium.

The building's height and "double helix" interior were designed to maximize space, providing 16,500 square meters of exhibition premises on a footprint of just 4,800 square meters. Clad in shimmering silver panels, the museum houses 80 passenger cars, 40 commercial trucks, and 40 racing cars and trucks with more than 1,500 displays from the company's 120-year history.

Long-time rivalry

The Mercdes building in Stuttgart

Mercedes dominates the Stuttgart skyline

Porsche was determined not to be outstripped. But in fact, the company has long stood in the shadow of Mercedes down in Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Stuttgart's industrial heritage is a source of much pride to locals, and the region has always profited from the ongoing rivalry between the luxury carmakers, with each company trying to up its profile by funding competing museums and arenas.

But ultimately, the city tends to identify most with the Mercedes-Benz brand, and the Daimler firm has succeeded most obviously in conquering the Stuttgart skyline.

In comparison, Porsche is something of a poor relation, forever trying to emulate and outdo its rival Mercedes. And in the race to erect the best museum, Porsche, for the time being, is lagging behind.

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