The present article describes the first stage of the KorAP project, launched recently at the Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim, Germany. The aim of this project is to develop an innovative corpus analysis platform to tackle the increasing demands of modern linguistic research. The platform will facilitate new linguistic findings by making it possible to manage and analyse primary data and annotations in the petabyte range, while at the same time allowing an undistorted view of the primary linguistic data, and thus fully satisfying the demands of a scientific tool. An additional important aim of the project is to make corpus data as openly accessible as possible in light of unavoidable legal restrictions, for instance through support for distributed virtual corpora, user-defined annotations and adaptable user interfaces, as well as interfaces and sandboxes for user-supplied analysis applications. We discuss our motivation for undertaking this endeavour and the challenges that face it. Next, we outline our software implementation plan and describe development to-date.