At the beginning of the event, which took place at Mannheim’s former ice stadium, Prof. Thomas Puhl, President of the University of Mannheim, stressed the urgency of the project. According to Puhl, the university has reached its room capacity limits when it comes to coordinating lectures and accommodating staff members. With the upcoming restoration of the Schloss, the situation will become even more critical. In 2026 at the latest, once the Ostflügel is renovated, more than twenty urgently needed lecture halls and seminar rooms as well as offices of entire departments will no longer be available for use.
Puhl further emphasized how important it is for the University of Mannheim to maintain a campus where all locations are within walking distance from each other. “In order to make high-level scientific exchange possible between our researchers and students, it is crucial that they can get in touch with each other on campus,” he said. Furthermore, the university believes that both the residents of the Friedrichspark area and the employees and students of the university will benefit from the project in other ways too. By redesigning the green space and creating recreational areas where people can meet and hang out, the park will turn into a lively place – especially during the semester. The citizens of Mannheim will be able to spend their leisure time there until late in the evening.
The university is planning to build four new buildings along Bismarckstraße, although the architects Hähnig and Gemmeke had initially planned five in their construction design which won the architectural design competition in 2017. According to Puhl, two of the buildings are particularly important and need to be built within the next five years. One of these will provide rooms for lectures as well as offices for the period during which the Schloss will be restored. The other will be used by the School of Humanities. Another two buildings will be constructed in the long run. Besides one building providing space for the student administration and the numerous committed student groups, a House of Research will be built. The latter will house national and international research collaborations and the collaborative research centers, which are becoming more and more important.
The environmental impact and climate-friendliness of the constructions are of particular concern to the university. According to Bernd Müller, director of the Mannheim office of the Amt für Vermögen und Bau Baden-Württemberg, these aspects already played a major role at the time of the public tender for construction designs. Building in urban ventilation corridors will ensure fresh air circulation towards the city center. Greenery will be planted on rooftops and facades, and a variety of new trees will be planted. In order to keep more of the already existing trees, the building facades have also been moved back again in the plans. In addition, the impervious surfaces currently covering the area will be notably reduced.
The current framework plan can be found here (in German): https://buergerinfo.mannheim.de/buergerinfo/si0057.asp?__ksinr=8897
The climate report and tree survey (in German) can be downloaded here: https://www.mannheim.de/de/node/125337