The grounds of the "Topography of Terror" were made accessible to the public in 1987 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the city Berlin. The excavated remains of buildings, the post-war relics and the exhibition "Topography of Terror" in a provisional hall documented the history of the site, where the headquarters of the National Socialist SS and police state had been located.
The establishment of the Topography of Terror Foundation was followed by the decision to build a visitors' and documentation centre.
In 1993, the architectural competition was won by the design of the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. By July 1999, however, no more than the basement and three stairwell towers had been completed. After various delays due to financial and technical problems, construction was discontinued.
In May 2004, the Federal government and Berlin Senate agreed on stopping the Zumthor project and on a new public invitation to tender.
Until the new building is completed, the exhibition "Topography of Terror" will be presented open-air in the excavations along Niederkirchnerstrasse.