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CENTRAL BUILDING GRAND OPENING

03/12/2017 The Grand Opening ceremony for the new Main Building was held on 11th March 2017 in the presence of over 800 guests gathered in the auditorium. The opening speech, held by the University’s president, Prof. Dr. Sascha Spoun was followed by several addresses, including those by architect Daniel Libeskind and Lower Saxony State Premier, Stefan Weil. The artistic accompaniment was played by Ensemble Flex, the dancers Rhea Gubler and Maria Gabriela Luque, as well as the singers Dorothea Müller and Robin Davis. The ceremony commenced with poetic pieces by students on the topics of perception, art and science, truth and freedom.

Daniel Libeskind and Holm Keller shown against a background designed by students.

spoun: achitecture is a cultural medium

Sascha Spoun greeted the public by citing Daniel Libeskind's words: “Architecture is about a cultural medium” for it was he, as the University’s president, who, back in 2006, initiated the planning for this Main Building together with the then Vice President, Holm Keller. January 2017 saw the official approval for operation by the Building Inspectorate. The definite date for the Grand Opening was then set. The new Main Building renders possible the integration of Volgershall and Rotes Feld, the University’s other campuses, onto one single campus on the Scharnhorsstrasse, thereby facilitating mutual exchange not only among students, but also teaching staff. By designing this building, architect Daniel Libeskind sent out an architectural message, which fulfilled the expectations placed on a model university like Leuphana, Sasha Spoun explained.

STEPHAN WEIL: BY THIS GRAND OPENING, LEUPHANA CROSSED A RUBICON, OPENING A NEW CHAPTER IN HER HISTORY

In his speech, State Premier Stephan Weil drew parallels to the recently inaugurated ‘Elbphilharmonie’ (Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall). Both buildings’ style is determined by distinguishing features involving pronounced aesthetics. Moreover, both fulfil a special purpose – in the case of the Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall, it is music and culture; the new Main Building is dedicated to academia. Furthermore, the Main Building shows that science is worth investing in. 

Stephan Weil, Lower Saxony State Premier

“By this Grand Opening, Leuphana crossed a Rubicon, opening a new chapter in her history. This building is a meeting place for students and teaching staff, the focal point of an emerging university”, said Weil. Further, Leuphana was a comparatively young university, but despite its short history, it already had a unique reputation. It encouraged lateral thinking – especially in times when academia was made to resemble secondary school, this was the type of higher education we need. Weil emphasised that “Leuphana can be proud” of having been “astute in giving topics such as education, digitisation, and sustainability the prominence and interdisciplinary touch they deserve”. Furthermore, the university was an outstanding example of the use of former military barracks. He hoped that all those present had let the architecture and atmosphere of the new building inspire them.

THE MAIN BUILDING – OPINIONS

GABRIELE HEINEN-KLJAJIĆ: SYMBOL OF AN OPEN, TOLERANT SOCIETY

Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, Lower Saxony’s Minister for Science and Culture

Lower Saxony’s Minister for Science and Culture, Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, declared: “The Main Building stands as an example for the aesthetic building culture of the 21st Century”. She went on to say that the architecture of the building reflected the University’s essence – novel and lateral thinking. The keys to the University’s success are found in combining the great idea of sustainability, the concept of “thinking big” with regard to the Lüneburg region and knowledge transfer at local level.

Heinen-Kljajić is positive that “Leuphana is a brand name that has established itself at national and international level”. The Main Building is a new place for transfer and innovation. “Furthermore, this new building’s purpose reaches beyond academia” said the minister, “because it was built on the site of former Nazi barracks, it signals an open, tolerant society – which is all the more important in times of nationalist re-emergence not only in Europe, but also in the US”.

ULF WUGGENIG: RESEARCH REPORT ON NAZI PAST

Dr. des. Marina Gerber and Prof. Dr. Ulf Wuggenig, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences explained the site’s historical significance. The methodology of the research report prepared for this occasion rests on a big data analysis of press reports and on military data, explained Wuggenig, who is currently curating the exhibition „Hinterbühne I(Backstage I) on the campus’s Nazi past.

Wuggenig, Dean, und Dr. Marina Gerber

“This building is a black swan who will not adapt to its Nazi environment” Wuggenig pointed out. In his research, he was able to demonstrate that the Infantry Division 110, stationed in Lüneburg during the Second World War, had been involved in war crimes in Belarus, especially in connection with the Osarichi concentration camp. Units stationed in the Lüneburg barracks bombed, among others, Libeskind's birthplace of Lodz. Gerber added that the new building also symbolised the fact that these crimes remain in our memories forever.

HOLM KELLER AND DANIEL LIBESKIND: STUDENTS DEVELOPED THE BUILDING TOGETHER WITH THE ARCHITECT

Holm Keller was pleased that “Miracles also happen in Lower Saxony”. He then proceeded to outline, together with Daniel Libeskind, the new building’s genesis. “This new building knows about the past, but is looking towards the future” explained the former Vice-President. Students contributed to shaping the new Main Building. In the course of 14 seminars, together with Daniel Libeskind, they envisioned the new building; they drafted and redrafted its design – the first time in 2006 during a workshop in New York. “No-one has ever built something like this with creatives who are not architects”, Libeskind expounded. The end version of the building had not entirely been his idea. “Most people think they can’t build a building, but those students did it”. Keller and Libeskind agreed that education was an important investment. Many people spent money on weapons, cars or luxury goods, but were afraid of investing in education, Libeskind believes. “The public of the 21st century is not aware of knowledge and education being the most important investment”. The idea behind knowledge was to build a better world – yet it was impossible to develop new ideas if one lived exclusively in the past. “And this building proves that there is a fantastic future”, Libeskind summed up. Keller pointed out to the outstanding cooperation between the EU, the state of Lower Saxony, and the city and region of Lüneburg in the project’s realisation. The idea of integrating an Interfaith Meditation and Silent Prayer Room into the building had been developed by students, as students from different religions had been involved in the different workshops. The Interfaith Meditation and Silent Prayer Room also connected people within this hectic world, Libeskind explained.

THE BUILDING’S MAKING IN TIME LAPSE

AStA: (Students Union): "WE MUST CHALLENGE HIERARCHIES AND QUESTION FACTS"

“We must involve committees in all decisions to ensure that higher education remains democratic and that everyone’s voice is heard”, AStA’s spokeswoman, Susanna Dedring demanded. “The Bologna process has led to a competition for funding and professors between universities, which hinders actual educational goals” added AstA spokesman Benjamin Christodoulou. They called on people to keep a critical mind-set: “We must be brave – challenge hierarchies and question facts. We must build a discerning education and push science forward”.

VOLKER MEYER-GUCKEL: "LEUPHANA SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE"

text meyer-guckel en

The Chairman of the Foundation Board, Dr. Volker Meyer-Guckel, pointed to the University’s beginnings. It was called into life in 1989, and was merged with the local Fachhochschule (College of Technology) in 2005, as a result of which a new orientation was adopted in 2006. A situation unique in Germany

Chairman of the Foundation Board, Volker Meyer-Guckel

“Leuphana has taken every opportunity to build its educational and academic ideals on sound foundations. In just eleven years, the university has managed to create a tradition – that of innovation” said Meyer-Guckel. Leuphana swims against the tide, focusing, not on higher student numbers and as many degrees as possible, but on a special selection procedure. The University tries to find inter- and trans-disciplinary solutions to civil society’s issues. “Leuphana is looking for new things and is taking risks – and the new Main Building is therefore right and important for the University”. The new Main Building is a new cultural centre for the city and the region.

ACHATZ VON MÜLLER: AESTHETICS AND HISTORY

Head of College
Prof. Dr. Achatz von Müller

In his greeting, the head of the College , Prof. Dr. Achatz von Müller pointed out the origins of the universities in the Middle Ages, which were consciously founded independently of the churches and finally established themselves as a third relevant authority alongside the church and the state. Aesthetics also plays an important role: as a part of University culture and its anchoring in society, underscoring the university’s constitutive autonomy.

ULRICH MÄDGE: ONCE A GARRISON TOWN, NOW HOME TO A UNIVERSITY

Lüneburg’s Lord Mayor, Ulrich Mädge, remembers the moment when, ten years ago, Libeskind, Spoun and Keller introduced him to the idea of a new Main Building: “Contrary to my normal disposition, I was enthusiastic” he said dryly, adding: “I was enthusiastic about the idea of a Main Building – that vision was architecturally outstanding and good for urban development”. It is crucial to have young people around to promote dialogue and progress. “Transfiguring a garrison town into a university town is a considerable achievement” were Mädge’s words of praise for the concerted effort.

Mayor Ulrich Mädge

CLAUS-PETER LANGLOTZ: 30,000 HOURS‘ OVERTIME

Claus-Peter Langlotz, Member of the Board of the “Förderkreis Leuphana e.V.” (Society of Leuphana’s Sponsors, registered as charity)

Claus-Peter Langlotz from the Förderkreis (Society of sponsors) highlighted University President Sascha Spoun’s important role in the realisation of the project. He had acted as a “general manager” and put in long overtime hours – 30,000, as Langlotz calculated with a humorous wink.

SASCHA SPOUN: THE COURAGE TO LOOK

In his speech, Sascha Spoun declared that the new Main Building created neither pure well-being nor displeasure to the viewer – nor was it meant to. When looking at the building, the viewer must constantly reorient their gaze. And that was a good thing – because it would have been negligent of Leuphana to resort to the ordinary. Architecture influenced research and study in the university. Spoun is convinced that “what irritates or provokes, encourages dialogue – even outside of seminars and lectures”. The building was meant to help those, to whom the future belongs, acquire new ideas and was a sign of investment in education. “I therefore urge you not only to: sapere aude – have the courage to use your own mind, but also to: videre aude - have the courage to look, allow yourself to be provoked – and to agere aude – have the courage to act, to shape the future” concluded Spoun.

President Sascha Spoun

IMPRESSIONS FROM THE GRAND OPENING


CONTACTS

PRESS AND MEDIA

Henning Zühlsdorff
Scharnhorststr. 1, C10.311
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1007
Fax +49.4131.677-1091
Mobil +49.171.196.58.78
henning.zuehlsdorff@leuphana.de

INTERNAL EVENTS

Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Müller, Baudirektor
Scharnhorststr. 1, C10.124
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1830
Fax +49.4131.677-1096
thomas.mueller@leuphana.de

EXTERNAL EVENTS

Leuphana Veranstaltungs- und Vermarktungsgesellschaft mbH
Nathalie Heinrich
Uelzener Strasse 107
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131 156 14 – 0
n.heinrich@lvv.gmbh

LARGE EVENTS MANAGEMENT

Antje Dovermann
Scharnhorststr.1, C10.011
21335 Lüneburg
Fon +49.4131.677-1498
Fax +49.4131.677-1009
antje.dovermann@leuphana.de


Editors: Morgaine Struve, Martin Gierczak, University Communication. News can be send to news@leuphana.de.