March 11, 2017 marked the opening of our university’s Central Building after approximately 10 years of planning. The planning and construction have been problematic from many sides. On this page, we once again gather our positions and information about the building’s genesis.
The Development Of The Central Building – A Chronicle Of Important Events
2006: The Year of Rumors
In the year of the inauguration of President Sascha Spoun and former full-time Vice-President Holm Keller, there are rumors for the first time about the planning of a central building, which were strongly denied by the university management – “The Audimax is a complete rumor” (Holm Keller). Daniel Libeskind – star architect and later part-time professor in Lüneburg – gives a seminar in New York on the development of a central building.
2007: Official start of planning
The following year, the rumors are confirmed: Libeskind presents models for a central building in his inaugural lecture. A building permit is obtained. The planned costs are 56 million euros, completion is scheduled for 2011.
2010: AStA 2.0: Campus development
In 2010, the AStA reissued AStA 2.0, which had not been published for some time, with a special on the central building and campus development. This almost historical document describes in detail different areas of the planning at that time and what interesting projects were being thought of. You can read the article here (German).
2011: Laying of the foundation stone
On May 8, 2011, the foundation stone was laid after the building permit was issued, with completion scheduled for 2014. In the same year, allegations of corruption against Keller manifested themselves, based on an audit report from the State Audit Office. Among other things, it criticized the sponsorship of the building facade by Rheinzink GmbH, a (former) business partner of Keller and Libeskind, because this had undermined competition. The State Audit Office writes: “The mutual economic interests – especially involving the vice president of Leuphana – paint a picture that could cast doubt on the required objective procurement action of a foundation under public law.” (Measure test 1) If the anti-corruption guideline would apply to public institutions, which is suggested to foundations (like our university), one would have to speak of a violation of it. In addition, the “construction document could not be conclusively audited” and the State Audit Office does not consider the financing “fully secured.” Therefore, it recommends a renewed examination of the ministries as well as alternative financing possibilities, if necessary.
2011: AStA 2.0: The Holm Files
n 2011, on Holm Keller’s fifth anniversary in office, the AStA published a publication describing the absurd activities of our ex-vice president. Topics include Keller’s understanding of the university, which absurdities were planned, which relationships were (not) cultivated, which shady projects he was involved in, and which projects amused the whole city. Special issue Holm Keller (German)
2013: Increased costs, longer construction time
This year, for the first time, the university admits that neither the time nor the cost schedule can be met. As a result, an external supervisor is hired by the Ministry of Science and Culture under the red green (SPD and Grüne) state government. In the same year, OLAF, the EU’s anti-corruption agency (which is supporting the construction with 14 million euros), investigates Keller and discovers several irregularities in award procedures as well as Keller’s suspected financial interests. As a result, the Verden public prosecutor’s office begins investigations against him, for breach of trust and subsidy fraud, but these are closed in 2014 because there is too little evidence for initial suspicion. There is also the continuation of the measure audit of the State Audit Office, in which the consulting services used by the university are investigated. Irregularities and misguided use are found, e.g. the favoritism of a certain architect and the multiple violations “of the principle of economic efficiency and economy”.
2014: Demand for resignation of the presidium
Then, in the following year, the Higher Financial Directorate publishes an audit report that found significant planning deficiencies It also states that demolition might be cheaper than continuing construction. This report is considered so incriminating by AStA and StuPa that they ask Sascha Spoun and Holm Keller to resign.
You can find the statement here(German).
2015: Topping-out ceremony
The topping-out ceremony takes place on January 19. Not all parts of the building are in place, but the final height of 37 meters is reached.
2016: “Walls, crooked like the financial concept”. Article in the AStA magazine “Resonanzraum”
To summarize once again in a concise form the events concerning the construction, we published an article and a caricaturein the Resonanzraum.
After ten years of planning, the building is accepted by the building inspectorate on January 31 – the 14 million euros from the EU are thus secured. On March 11, the “Kick-off for the Opening of the Central Building” will take place with guests from science and society, professors, and selected representatives of the rest of the university community; twelve of 9,000 students have been invited. During the year, the campus will be moved and restructured so that it can be fully integrated into university operations for the winter semester.
You can find our press release on the opening of 09/03/2017 here(German). Here(German) you can find the manuscript of our greeting at the opening of the Central Building on March 11, which we had the pleasure to deliver amidst extensive eulogies. It is also available as a video on YouTube.
On April 12, there was an event for students, where again speeches were held, and afterwards, a tour through the building was offered. We were also there, here you can watch our speech on YouTube.