Saturday, November 8, 2008

BMW Welt

I am not much of a car person. I could never recite models as they drive by and I could really not careless what the new version of a model looks like. But I have always had a thing for BMW M3s - It's my dream car.

On our last day in Munich we trekked out to the newly opened BMW World. It was amazing. The building was an architectual wonder; it was designed by Coop Himmelblau and features a double cone exhibition room. The showroom (for those "interested in collecting an automobile") highlighted everything that makes a German engineered car amazing. There are multiple exhibits featuring everything from alternative energy cars to the design approach to the driving experience. You can even race the BMW of your choice in an XBox 360 game.

BMW World (left), BMW tower (tall building, right), BMW Museum (bowl-shaped building, right)

A look at the interior of BMW World. The coolest displays are beneath the car ramp and platform.

While the showroom focused on the present and the future, the museum featured the company's past. Once again the building housing the museum was an architectual showpiece. The museum was filled with cars, motorcycles, and airplane engines showcased with multiple media formats and interactive displays. The museum focused on seven parts: history of the company, the design of automobiles, motorcycles, motorsports, technology, the brand, and series of automobiles.

Some highlights of the visit were:

  • Seeing the futuristic GINA car, which trades typical rigid body panels for a neoprene skin. (The name also gives you a hint at what the hood looks like when it opens.)

  • BMW's futuristic GINA

  • A room highlighting the progression of M3s through the years.

  • Learning what happened to BMW (the BMW-filtered version anyway) during and after WW2. For example, its machinery was dismantled and given to the Allies as war reparations.

  • A kinetic structure made of hundreds of metal balls that morph into various shapes (I am begging Matt to engineer one for our living room).

BMW World, the Museum, the Corporate Headquarters, and the Munich Factory make up the BMW complex on the outskirts of Munich. The complex just happens to be across from Olympic Park; the corporate headquarters building and the museum were in fact put up just in time for the Munich Olympics in 1972.

After our visit to the BMW complex, we took a stroll through Olympic Park. We viewed the outside of the famous circus tent like stadium and went inside the swimming pool complex, where Mark Spitz set the Olympic record for most gold medals won at a single Olympics (which was recently broken by Michael Phelps in Beijing).

The Olympic site in Munich.

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