Libeskind Building: Leuphana submits appraisal of financial plan

Financing completely secured - No additional public funds required

Lüneburg. On October 31, 2013, Leuphana University Lüneburg submitted to the Lower Saxon State Government the required appraisal of the university’s plan to finance its new central building.  Earlier in June the plan had already been approved by the university’s Board of Trustees. The submitted appraisal was prepared by an independent auditing firm. The experts confirmed the university’s claim to have a solid and adequate financial plan for the central building.

The university laid out its financial plan in response to a request from the Ministry for Science and Culture: the need for clarification was produced in part by misleading reports in the media about a supposed cost explosion in the construction of the building. According to the latest calculations, the construction costs amount in total to about 76 million Euros gross. This corresponds to an increase of 18.3 million Euros in comparison with the previously approved sum of 57.7 million Euros. On the basis of an input tax refund, the university is required initially to only provide a net contribution of approximately 64 million Euros. The university has sufficient funds available for a partial return of the input tax, according to the appraisal made by the financial auditors.

As the university has often stated in the past, the cost increases arose, among other things, from the delayed start of construction caused by a neighbor’s lawsuit coupled with an increase in the cost index over the projected time of construction. This increase in construction costs, while predictable, may not officially be taken into consideration when setting the budget for public building projects in Lower Saxony. This factor was, therefore, outside the university trustees’ purview in their capacity as the building’s principal. The board of trustees had already stated in June that it was not responsible for the cost increases and the delay in construction.

The university has made the necessary changes in managing its real estate portfolio in order to cover the increased costs. Financing for the construction project has thereby been provided for completely. The public funds already committed will not need to be increased. Reductions in teaching, research, or the fulfillment of any other activities vital to the university’s mission will not be required by the completion of the new central building. The new eight-story central building has a total of 13,000 square meters floor space. It reaches a maximum height of almost 37 meters. A total of 114,000 cubic meters of space will be constructed on a 4,700 square meter base area. Research facilities will fill about half the available space, 2,800 square meters are planned for the student center, 2,600 square meters for a seminar center. A large auditorium will offer seating for 1,200 visitors.  Construction work began in February 2012 and is moving forward. August 31, 2015 is the projected completion date.

The new construction project is a consequence of the university’s substantive conceptual reorientation. The goal is to integrate all of the university’s units together into one central campus.  The new building will be the university’s epicenter. The building’s design has been created by Daniel Libeskind - an internationally acclaimed architect who also has been a visiting professor at Leuphana since 2007. The architect sought out students’ responses to his design in numerous courses that he taught at Leuphana, thereby incorporating the wishes and expectations of the building’s most important user group directly into the development process.