Inauguration Ceremony for Lecture Hall 13
Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation donates 1.2 million Euros for its modernisation
All Photos: © Hentschel
The newly refurbished lecture hall 13 in the New University building was inaugurated with a festive ceremony including lectures and music performances on 2 May 2010. The construction work had been completed in late April. The renovation of the lecture hall was made possible by the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation, which donated 1.2 million Euros for this purpose. Dr. h.c. Manfred Lautenschläger, benefactor and honorary senator of Heidelberg University attended the inauguration ceremony.
Heidelberg University will celebrate its 625th anniversary in 2011. By that time, the New University, the central auditorium complex in the Old Town of Heidelberg, will have been renovated and modernised. Lecture hall 13 is the first visible product of the restoration campaign at the heart of the “Dem lebendigen Geist” initiative supported by friends, benefactors and alumni of the University. Its aim is to cover a major portion of the construction costs (10.4 million Euros in all) by means of donations. Private benefactors and various foundations have already promised contributions totalling 5.6 million Euros. A further 3 million Euros will be provided by the state of Baden-Württemberg. Accordingly, over three-quarters of the sum required are already assured.
The renovation of the lecture hall fulfils the requirements laid down by the architectural heritage regulations while at the same time providing all the technological assets to be expected of a modern building. The ventilation system has been completely renovated. Furthermore, the sophisticated technical features with which the hall has been equipped includes induction loops to support hearing aids, camera ports for picture and sound transmission to other lecture halls and all the requisite safety installations. The wooden seating has been refurbished and stain-varnished to restore its original condition. A striking feature of the modernised interior are the multi-coloured vertical and horizontal metal slats attached to the ceiling and the back wall of the hall. One of their functions is to conceal the technical installations for ventilation, lighting and the acoustic system.
The New University was built in 1930/31 with donations from America. Out of dedication to Heidelberg University, Jacob Gould Schurman, then U.S. Ambassador to Germany and alumnus of the Ruperto Carola, initiated this campaign. The architectural complex constituting the New University is grouped around the main building on the south side of University Square, in which the Great Hall and most of the lecture halls are located. The west wing on Grabengasse accommodates the Department of History and the Medieval Latin Library, plus lecture halls 12, 12a and 13. The south wing on Seminarstraße houses further sections of the Department of History, the Institute of Franconian-Palatine History and Area Studies and the Department of Eastern European History.
“This lecture hall makes one want to go back to study again,” said Manfred Lautenschläger. Rector Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel expressed his gratitude to Dr. Lautenschläger for his generosity, emphasising that the project had been made possible by the selfless support it had received from such a “committed benefactor”. In his opening speech, Professor Eitel outlined the chequered history of the New University complex.
The keynote lecture of the inauguration ceremony for lecture hall 13 was given by Heidelberg Germanic Studies scholar Prof. Dr. Dieter Borchmeyer, President of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. His subject was “Romanticism or A Long Day’s Journey into Night”. The music was performed by Silke Schwarz (soprano) and Joana Mallwitz (piano) of Heidelberg’s Municipal Theatre. The ceremony was part of the “Heidelberg Lectures on Cultural Theory” series supported by the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation.