Luneburg University’s Libeskind Building / Daniel Libeskind

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Germany’s Lüneburg university wants to reinvent itself as an elite academic institution and is looking to generate buzz with a huge new building designed by star US architect Daniel Libeskind. Students and local politicians have criticized the ambitious plans, but construction is going ahead, now that funding has finally been secured. More images and description after the break.

Big names get the general public’s attention — that’s something the administrators at Lüneburg University near Hamburg know well. In the past, former US President Jimmy Carter and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both made appearances on the campus.

But the biggest name in Lüneburg right now is that of star architect Daniel Libeskind. The 64-year-old American architect, who designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin and has been involved in rebuilding the World Trade Center in New York, gives lectures at the institution as a part-time professor. He is also behind plans for the futuristic new central building at the university, which looks set to go ahead after the university administration announced funding plans earlier this week.

Courtesy of Daniel Libeskind

With its silver-colored, jagged facade, the building will be 38 meters (124 feet) high, able to accommodate 1,200 people and will cost around €57.7 million ($76 million). The laying of the foundation stone is planned for early 2011, and construction is supposed to be completed by Easter 2014. The building has already attracted its share of controversy, however. Student representatives have complained that it is “not practical,” while state-level politicians have criticized the fact that funding for construction was uncertain. Even local environmental activists are upset: Two pairs of crested larks, an acutely endangered bird species, were discovered on the site.

Courtesy of Daniel Libeskind

A University With Ambitions

The whole project is part of the regional university’s ambitious plans to reinvent itself. It started off as a technical college but now aspires to become more of an elite institute of contemporary learning. The university has called itself Leuphana for the past few years after an advertising agency suggested a name change. It is run by university president Sascha Spoun, who was the youngest head of a German university when he took up the position in 2006 at the age of 36. His deputy, Holm Keller, previously worked for the management consultancy firm McKinsey and the publishing and media giant Bertelsmann.

In order to realize their dream of the Libeskind building, the university administration has had to consider its financial options carefully. Originally this involved bringing together private and public funding in a so-called public-private partnership, which would have meant the construction of a hotel and a parking lot on the university campus as well. But both student groups and state politicians objected to the fact that a private investor would have usage rights on the university campus.

Courtesy of Daniel Libeskind

Earlier this week, however, the university announced that it would not be bringing on board private investors. Instead, it will build and operate the building by itself. A large part of the funding will come from the state of Lower Saxony, which will contribute €18.6 million, and the European Union, which is providing €14 million. Other money will come from the city and regional administration, which will provide a total of €7 million together, the German Economics Ministry and other smaller sponsors, including Germany’s churches.

The university will also have to put up some money of its own. It plans to sell off some university land and buildings, which is expected to bring in €9 million. Local politicians are already warning that the institution should not sell off their property at anything below market value.

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Luneburg University’s Libeskind Building / Daniel Libeskind" 04 Jan 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • James Smith

    Has this creep not EFF’d-up enough cities in this world!!?? Take a look at the mess he made out of our Royal Ontario Museum before you drink this fella’s Koolaid! Been to Denver? Hit you head going up the escalator to see a wall you can’t hang pictures on?

  • andrew

    not this guy again…:|

  • Robb

    Good Lord, i hoped Liebesking vaporized long time ago….it seams his deconstruction gimmick is still alive….i just can’t get those investors what are they thinking.

  • Travis

    That fourth rendering is…a bit, uh “raw”. And the massing from that angle looks just awful. Bad proportions. And then the same museal interior he’s done time and time again for the only interior. It’s too easy though, everyone loves to hate Libeskind’s designs

  • Dan

    Notes to self:
    1. Invent wildly iconic signature aesthetic.
    2. Get recognized for it.
    3. Repeat.

    • Ard

      you forget note 4 to 10:

      4. repeat
      5. repeat
      6. repeat
      7. repeat
      8. repeat
      9. repeat
      10. repeat

      • san

        or, for coders…

        dim style
        style = iconic signature aesthetic

        if recognized for style
        do loop

  • Thomas Washington

    Another context-less design that doesn’t address any new ideology, context, environment, materiality, tectonics or any other main aspect of Architecture. This is just a rehash of all his other designs, and once again dilutes any meaning once put on these jagged forms.

  • vega

    someone should retire …

  • archi

    Sorry, Daniel. But this looks like it was done by a 3rd year pass grade student who is a fan of Daniel Libeskind. And it seems, judging by the text above, that the client is more interested in style than substance. The reaction seems justified. If the client continues with this, then they will get what they deserve.

  • gluehot

    Looks like a boolean union of his Manchester and Hong Kong buildings, or maybe Mr. Venom from Spiderman.
    Laughable pointy shapes with boring diagonal slashes, coated with metaphors like world peace and humanism, don’t make a good design.
    It might have worked once in 1989, but oh boy, somebody really needs to move on.

  • Thomas K

    The ego-driven Libeskind makes a point of criticizing other architects as “hacks”. But Libeskind and his staff of moronic and mindless drones have themselves become uber-hacks, cranking out the same old meaningless formalism over and over again. If Libeskind wants to be a joke that’s his decision. But I do feel sorry for his young staff wasting their lives on such pathetic projects as this.

  • nonono

    I knew it before clicking this link, I had feeling that nobody praising. Wait, is it 1999?

  • up_today_arch

    regular building with Lebeskind-style envelope…

  • Chris

    That’s gotta be one of the worst building envelopes I’ve seen. And I’m still in university.

  • Jp

    again…and again…and again…and again…and again…

    Hopefully one day he will get a new idea.

    Interesting how the similarities with Gehry go beyond the metal skin.

  • Vlad

    i spent hours trying to find his school building in london a few years ago and when i finally got there i was a very disappointed young man. someone tell the people that those shapes are stupid..

  • blk

    oh dear… sad… sad…

  • CAVP

    I don’t even know how to begin. Architect students spend years of sleepless days, humiliating criticism from school staff, numerous reminders that a building has to have some type of relationship with its context, and most of all, that architecture is defined by space. First, I don’t see any drawings that reflect the interior space; no floor plans and no sections. I can’t say I like or dislike the building just because of its aesthetic appearance or because the architect is repeating the same building over and over again. But, when an architect firm or company posts a project (in a website that is mostly viewed by professionals and architect students) with no floor plans, no sections, no site plan (NO CONTEXT) they can’t expect constructive criticism. Don’t try to insult our intelligence by posting a couple of empty renders, next time post them in “Graphic Design Digest”. Don’t get me wrong, I love renders but they should be used as a compliment or as a deal-maker with clients. This project is posted in an architectural website without the basics: DRAWINGS. Next time you come to a gun fight, bring a gun and not a shiny knife.

    • Tom Nedrick

      Normally I’d agree with you and would like to see floor plans. In Libeskind’s case I could care less. His plans won’t add anything to the comprehension of the design because there is no design to speak of. Libeskind’s approach is wholly and completely superficial:

      Step 1: Pull out an old Chamberworks drawing or plan from another project.
      Step 2: Do a napkin sketch.
      Step 3: Write some gibberish with a few pretentious claims thrown in.
      Step 4: Give the napkin sketch to a collaborating firm with real knowledge and experience.
      Step 5: Take all the credit for yourself at the press conference.

      Plans will merely confirm what the renderings already show – namely that Daniel Libeskind is an over-rated, over-hyped clown with no talent except for bragging about himself.

  • jibrur

    aw aw aw, this a gig too damn inspiring eh?