The Leuphana University of Lüneburg has opened a new main building designed by the world-renowned U.S architect Daniel Libeskind at a cost of around EUR 100 million, according to a press release on March 12. The 37-metre high building with a 13,000-square metre area is to become a centre of study and research that reflects both university and society. About half of the area has been set aside for research purposes. The building also has a 5,000-square metre centre for students and seminars. A new events centre has space for up to 2,500 visitors including 1,100 in the new Auditorium Maximum. Speaking during the opening ceremony on March 11, Stephan Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, said: “The university has received an architectural highlight in which both the city and the region can take pride.” The building is a forum that reflects the ideals of an open society and which is in accordance with the university’s charter and that of the state.
Libeskind’s intense exchange with students
Students developed ideas and plans with Libeskind in some 14 seminars and have left their mark on the new building. In March 2007, around 15 students of cultural studies at the University of Lüneburg attended a workshop at Libeskind’s studio in New York marking the start of their collaboration. As non-students of architecture, their approach was along the lines of divergent thinking. Libeskind pointed out: “The spirit of the university was my inspiration for the new main building at Leuphana. I experience Leuphana as an incubator of new ideas, innovation, research and discovery. The new building is imbued with these elements.”
Social centre to go beyond university life
The University of Lüneburg has been established on the site of a former Wehrmacht barracks. Libeskind has opted for a contrast to the military structure, which symbolises an authoritarian system. “The main building is the exact opposite. Its message is to bring people together,” Libeskind stressed, adding that he would like to see the building become a social centre used beyond university life. The City of Lüneburg has expressed interest in using the Auditorium Maximum as a city hall e.g. for concerts.