Foundation stone for new building has been laid

Libeskind building brings world architecture to Lüneburg University

Leuphana University will be given a new look. In the presence of the internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the foundation stone for the new central building was laid in a festive ceremony on May 8, 2011. The building designed by Libeskind is the centerpiece of the campus development of the model university in Lüneburg. The construction costs are estimated at approximately € 60 million. Substantial contribution toward the costs of the project is provided by the German federal government, the German federal state of Lower Saxony, the European Union as well as by the City and District of Lüneburg. Financial support is also given by the Catholic and Protestant Church, the Jewish communities of Lower Saxony, and the Lower Saxony’s Chamber of Cloisters. The building will be constructed under the supervision of Leuphana University. It is scheduled for completion in 2014. The underlying concept guiding the project design is to create a place that provides an ideal location for studying, researching, and teaching. The new central building will cover a total usable space of 13,000 square meters. Research activities will cover about half of the available place. 2,800 square meters are intended to be used for a study center, and 2,600 square meters for a seminar center. An auditorium maximum will provide space for 1,200 visitors.

At the beginning of the festive ceremony, Johanna Wanka, Minister for Science of Lower Saxony, said: “A unique building will be built in Lüneburg. It combines in a very remarkable manner architectural art with modern functionalism and thereby enhances the attractiveness of Leuphana University located at the gates of Hamburg.” The festive ceremony was attended by numerous representatives from politics, the church, science, business, and civil society, among them Bishop Norbert Trelle (Diocese of Hildesheim) and Burkhard Guntau, President of the State Church Administration Office of Hanover, Sigrid Maier-Knapp-Herbst, President of the Lower Saxony Chamber of Cloisters, Michael Fürst, Chairman of the State Association of Jewish Communities of Lower Saxony, as well as Ulrich Mädge, First Mayor of Lüneburg, and Manfred Nahrstedt, District Chief Executive. Each of them placed a different coin into the foundation stone’s container. The ceremony was accompanied by the Lüneburg Symphonic Orchestra, directed by Urs Michael Theus.


Date of May 8, 2001 deliberately chosen

The date of laying the foundation stone on the day of liberation from National Socialism in Europe was deliberately chosen. Leuphana University of Lüneburg is located in an area formerly used as German Wehrmacht barracks. The design by Daniel Libeskind, who is teaching at Leuphana as a visiting professor, represents a distinct architectural counterpoint. Libeskind engaged in an intensive exchange of ideas with students to ensure that the wishes and ideas expressed by the most important group of users were taken into account in the building’s design. Existing structures are broken up to reflect the free spirit and diversity of scholarship, as well as to symbolize openness, transparency, and democratic commitment. The central building would “open up new opportunities for interaction between disciplines, university lecturers, social areas, presentation rooms, and areas of contemplation,” so Libeskind during the foundation stone laying ceremony.

The new eight-story central building, including an innovation center, a research center, a seminar center, student facilities, and a café as well as modern multi-functional and exhibition space, also brings together the different locations of Leuphana University in one central place on campus. At the same time, the auditorium maximum of the central building will serve as a new city and congress hall for the City of Lüneburg; it thereby reflects the important role of the University in public life.

President Sascha Spoun, who laid the foundation stone jointly with Dr. Volker Meyer-Guckel, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, called the new building “a milestone in the University’s development.” The design would pursue an aesthetic approach that was unique and a symbol of the new model of university. Since 2007, Leuphana has been realigning its offerings in research and teaching. The main objective is to develop a modern university for civil society in the 21st century. Leuphana has been awarded several prizes for its unique model, which has attracted attention far beyond the borders of Lüneburg.


New central building sets new standards

In the field of public buildings, the central building sets new standards not only in terms of design, but also in terms of energy efficiency. The focus lies on energy-optimized building. The building stands out by its technological innovations like vacuum insulated glazing (VIG) or by using phase change materials (PCM) and other building blocks for a user dependent central building control system. The current concept is based on the net zero emission buildings (NZEB) standards. Once the building has been put into operation, it could produce more energy than it uses.

Holm Keller, Vice President of Leuphana and project initiator, particularly emphasized the building’s social sustainability. Both the high level of involvement of future users during the entire planning period and broad discussions in the public would be pointing the way forward. "The great number of public sponsors once again demonstrates that the ambitious development plans of Leuphana are met with positive response."


Architect Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind was born in Poland in 1946 and became an American citizen in 1965. He studied music in Israel and in New York, then became a professional musician, and later on switched from music to architecture. His works are on display worldwide in museums and galleries and are the subject matter of numerous international publications in different languages. Libeskind’s ideas have influenced many architects and have considerably contributed to the discussion on the future development of cities and culture. In 1989, Libeskind established his own architecture office in Berlin. He worked as a visiting professor at the world renowned Harvard and Yale universities. He also gave lectures in Karlsruhe and Berlin, where he used to live for a few years. In June 2007, Daniel Libeskind was appointed visiting professor at Leuphana University.

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