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10 July 2002

Rector Prof. Hommelhoff: "New Building a Ray of Hope"

Im Neuenheimer Feld 133: Work begins on new international hall of residence — Due for completion by winter semester 2003/04

Erster Spatenstich
Starting the work on the new international hall of residence: Rolf Stroux, Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff, Dr. Reinhard Jussli, Dieter Gutenkunst, Horst Walther and Helmut Lang (left to right).
Photograph : Baumann

Work has begun on Heidelberg University's Neuenheimer Feld campus for a new horseshoe-shaped construction with a spacious inner courtyard. The building is designed as a hall of residence for international students and due for completion in time for the winter semester 2003/04. The total costs amount to Euro 3 million and the American Max Kade Foundation will be donating $ 450,000 to the Studentenwerk (Student Services) for the purpose. "This new complex — and the conversion of the nurses' homes — is a token of our commitment," said Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff. "For us student accommodation is a major priority." Cranes, said the Rector, are a sign of hope.

Max Kade, who emigrated to America from his native Schwäbisch Hall in 1904 and made a fortune there, established the non-profit organisation "to sow the seeds of friendship where once hostility reigned," as one of the speeches at the ceremony to mark the commencement of building work on the new hall put it.

Residence for international students

The fact that Heidelberg students will be profiting from such commitment is due to the President of the Foundation, New York lawyer Dr. Hans G. Hachmann. He visited Germany's oldest university in early 2000 and was impressed by its international complexion and the range of teaching and social services it offers. At that time, the Studentenwerk, supported by the University and its Planning Department, had already developed initial ideas for an international hall of residence. Dr. Hachmann was much taken with the idea and indicated that the Max Kade Foundation would be prepared to provide financial support for the undertaking.

Plans are for a total of 76 rooms, all equipped with cable TV facilities, telephones and internet access. Some of these are to be reserved for American students. At the reception following the ceremony, Rector Prof. Hommelhoff addressed Helmut Lang, present on behalf of the building contractors Bilfinger and Berger: "We hope you will stick to the schedule and give us a sturdy, reliable construction."

Residence for international students

The University expects some 6,000 new undergraduates in the coming winter term, 1,500 of them from abroad. Last year hundreds of new undergraduates were still looking for accommodation well after the semester had started and some of them ended up turning their backs on Heidelberg in despair. The new building, said Hommelhoff, is "a ray of hope". The Max Kade Foundation co-funding the enterprise also helps finance halls of residence in the US and awards study grants for German and American students and young academics.

Meanwhile, Prof. Hommelhoff has a new objective in mind. The conversion of the neighbouring nurses' homes would provide extra accommodation for 220 students spending one or two years in Heidelberg in the framework of university exchange programmes. The plans also include a forum for international encounters and a day-care centre for young children. A potential sponsor is already in view. The Rector's broader aim is to encourage student accommodation along the banks of the Neckar river.

In this connection he also reiterated his advocacy for a fifth bridge across the Neckar to be located in the Wieblingen district of Heidelberg and not in the centre of town. A four-lane road bridge plus tramlines in the vicinity of the new building, he said, was out of the question.


Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 23.07.2002


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