A palace for ideas
Siemens hands over Himbeerpalast building to FAU – planning permission granted for lecture hall complex
After over 70 years as Siemens’ landmark in Erlangen, the company has now officially handed over its historical administrative complex, also known as the ‘Himbeerpalast’, to its new owner, FAU. This means detailed preparations for the refurbishment and renovation of the building for use by the University can now begin. In addition, planning permission has been granted for the new lecture hall complex on Henkestrasse. Together, these two buildings will form the new Humanities Centre in Erlangen.
After the renovation, refurbishment and extension is complete, the Himbeerpalast will be used as a seminar, office and library building and will house most of the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology, in other words over 7000 students and 1000 members of staff. The new Language Centre, a cafeteria, and a central service centre for all students at FAU will also be located in the building as well as the Centre for Teacher Education. Part of the complex construction project involves building a modern library as an extension to the existing listed building.
A new home for the Humanities
The Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology at FAU is currently scattered across several different buildings in different places. The Himbeerpalast building project will generate over 28,000 square metres of floor space for the Faculty and its organisational units. This is equivalent to almost three quarters of the space required by the Faculty in Erlangen. A further step involves plans by the Bavarian State Government to build a new lecture hall complex on the neighbouring plot at Henkestrasse 42, where the department of Organic Chemistry was previously located. Two new lecture halls have been built on the University’s southern campus in Erlangen, which means the old building has become obsolete and can now be replaced by a modern lecture hall complex. It offers around 7,500 square metres of floor space for FAU’s future Audimax lecture hall, for other lecture halls and institutes at the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology in addition to facilities for conferences and events, a stage for the experimental theatre and space for museum collections such as the Antique and Classical Collection. The Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts, the Bavarian Ministry of Finance and the Bavarian Ministry of Housing, Construction and Transport have now given their go-ahead for the project.
Together, these two buildings will form the new Humanities Centre in Erlangen.
The Himbeerpalast was sold to the Bavarian State Government by Siemens for FAU in 2018, as Siemens will gradually be moving its operations in the region to the Siemens Campus Erlangen over the next few years. ‘I am very pleased to have found a worthy successor in Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg for our historical building,’ emphasises Prof. Dr. Ralf P. Thomas, CFO and Member of the Managing Board at Siemens AG as well as spokesperson for the company in the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region. ‘Siemens made history in the Himbeerpalast and I hope that future students will be inspired by the spirit of the building.’
‘A strong message for the future’
‘The Himbeerpalast building offers the ideal opportunity for FAU to branch out into a new area of Erlangen. This iconic building located in close proximity to important University departments and the city centre will soon be equipped with cutting-edge facilities for the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Theology. We are setting up a new Humanities Centre for ground-breaking research and teaching. This means the Himbeerpalast will continue to be a location of creativity and of ideas where topics of great relevance to society are researched and discussed. The lecture hall complex at Henkestrasse will become a place for the entire University and the public to meet. Located in the direct vicinity of the historic city centre of Erlangen, the building makes a statement about the open, forward-looking, and innovative spirit of this University which is fully integrated into our society, emphasises Bavarian science minister Bernd Sibler.
‘The handover of the Himbeerpalast building to FAU takes us one step closer to our goal of setting up the new Humanities Centre. This is a strong message for the future, not only for Erlangen as a location for research, but for the whole of Bavaria,’ says Joachim Herrmann, Bavarian Minister of the Interior. ‘As a location rich in tradition, the former administrative building of Siemens remains one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks and will be revitalised by becoming a leading location for learning and cutting-edge research in future.’
‘Launching the new Humanities Centre Erlangen will set us on track to meet our goals for establishing FAU as an attractive location in the future. In conjunction with the extensive investments in the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Sciences as well as the Humanities Centre in Nuremberg, our University will become an even more attractive location for students and top researchers from all over the world. We offer them a modern academic environment with excellent facilities for studying, teaching and research. This is exactly what we aim to be – a University where everyone feels at home and one people are happy to work and study at,’ explains FAU President, Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger.
‘The university at the heart of the city’
‘The go-ahead for the plans for the new lecture hall complex is a further important step for FAU towards making our new Humanities Centre a reality. At the same time, we are pleased to have successfully completed the handover process with Siemens and we can now get down to working on the refurbishment of the building. We are confident that we will overcome all the challenges related to the planning and building work we will face during the next few years in close collaboration with all those involved,’ says Christian Zens, Chancellor of FAU.
Dr. Florian Janik, mayor of the city of Erlangen adds, ‘For decades, the Himbeerpalast building was a symbol for Erlangen as a location of business and industry, and now it is set to become an icon of our innovative university city and city of research. The handover also means that plans for redeveloping parts of the city are becoming reality. The Siemens Campus is not only a new district, but also provides the University with the opportunity to relocate to the heart of our city. I’m very much looking forward to a seeing a young and vibrant neighbourhood develop here when the University moves in.’
The historical ‘Himbeerpalast’ building is located in the city centre and was the headquarters of Siemens’ administration for a while. Its striking architectural style means that it is well known even beyond Erlangen. It was made a listed building in 1991 by the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments because of its exceptional urban planning and architectural qualities.
The building was cleared during the last few months during one of Siemens’ largest internal relocations in the region. Several members of staff have moved temporarily into the Siemens building next door before they can move to their new offices in the Siemens Campus in Erlangen. All furniture that was no longer required, including two grand pianos and several works of art, have found new homes after being sold at a large public auction.
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