The structure, built between 1875 and 78 according to a design by August Tiede as the Regional Office for Geology and Mining Academy, is part of a complex that also includes the neighbouring Museum of Natural History and a hall of the Humboldt University. After suffering extensive damage in the Second World War, it was reconstructed in the 1950s, whereby historic structures were covered up and important architectural elements removed. In the GDR it served as the Ministry of Geology before it was converted into the Federal Ministry of Transportation when the federal government moved from Bonn to Berlin.
The goal of the design was to resurrect the original character of the floor plan with its large atriums and two-storey circular arched galleries. To this end, all later additions were removed and damaged or lost parts reconstructed according to old archetypes or, when necessary, replaced with modern elements. A secondary structure, made of steel supports and closed wall elements, as well as glass in the passage leading to the vaulted ceilings, retains the interior appearance of the original structure and simultaneously provides a partition into modern offices. The use of different materials creates an exciting dialogue between old and new, while the new structures document the continuation of history.