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A Brand New Location for the University

Relocation to the city center by October: Why this is both a challenge and an adventure for the Faculty of Law

University & Society

The University of Bremen’s Faculty of Law is going to conquer the city center – as of October 1, 2024, the university will have an unmistakable presence in central Bremen. The new location will offer even better conditions for teaching and research.

Looking out of his office window, Professor Gralf-Peter Calliess is met with the burgundy masonry of the GW1 lecture hall building. The periphery afforded the Dean of the Faculty of Law includes the greenery of the Bürgerpark and several small garden plots. A portion of the “silver whale” of the Universum science center is visible as well. The university professor’s office view will soon be a drastically different one. “I think I’ll be looking at the Liebfrauenkirchhof square,” he states, but he is not quite sure of his new office’s location.

The new building is 5.3 km or just under 20 minutes by bike further towards Bremen’s city center. Calliess and the entire faculty are moving into the former building of the Norddeutsche Landesbank (NordLB) at Domshof (town square by the cathedral). By the beginning of October this year, the majority of the move will be completed, with up to 300 first-year students reviving the building when Orientation Week begins on October 8. Around 160 university employees – professors as well as academic and administrative staff – will have already relocated. An additional 1,200 students will follow a week later.

“Legal Education and Legal Practice Will Continue to Grow Together”

Looking at a city map of Bremen, it seems to make sense that it would be the Faculty of Law who would move to the city. The GW1 lecture hall and GW1 building are the two buildings on campus that are closest to downtown. However, there are other, more valid reasons for relocating this faculty in particular: It is very compact, has relatively little overlap with other faculties, and very many links to the city center. “The Higher Regional Court, the Regional Court, and the District Court, as well as a number of law firms are all located there. The proximity to legal practice is excellent at the Domshof location. Legal education and legal practice will continue to grow together,” Gralf-Peter Calliess is convinced.

The university will gain around 18,000 square meters of space in the middle of the city. This ensures the stronger anchoring in the city that has been sought for years. “I am confident that this will be a great project,” says Frauke Meyer, Director of Finance and Administration. “Due to the proximity to Bremen’s residents, we as an academic institution will have the opportunity to present ourselves to the public in a completely different way than before.”

Gralf-Peter Calliess standing in front of a bookshelf
Downsizing his reference book collection: Dean Gralf-Peter Calliess will have less space for bookshelves in his new office.
© Kai Uwe Bohn / Universität Bremen

Property Owner Converts Buildings for University Use

The former NordLB building is owned by the bank and will be rented. It is in excellent condition and is ideally suited for use as a university location. “There is comparatively little need for renovation, and the property owner will cover the costs,” says the Director of Finance and Administration. The most extensive work will take place on the second floor – this is where the legal library with its 100,000 books will be housed, which are currently spread across campus in the NW1 and GW1 buildings. Study spaces will be grouped around it. Concerning the distribution of rooms, Dean Calliess speaks of “difficult decisions” – but these are very much first-world problems, “because all locations here are either A or A+, if I may say so.” Occasionally, two or three people will have to share offices. “On the upside, the move gives us the opportunity to finally properly group together work areas and research groups. Structures were established over decades at the ‘old’ campus, which are difficult to change. The move is a great opportunity for restructuring.”

Relocation as an Opportunity to De-clutter

The relocation also offers the opportunity to sort out and minimize office contents. To a certain extent, members of the Faculty of Law are now being “forced” to digitize, for example. Being a modern bank building, it is characterized by “a lot of glass and few walls” (Calliess) – there are many windows offering views of the cathedral courtyard and the surrounding streets as well as glass towards the inner corridors. “But there are fewer walls where you can put bookshelves,” the dean remarks. His current office shows the fondness legal scholars have had so far for printed materials. The walls are lined with several meters of reference books; adjacent offices have a similar ambience. “People are reluctant to dispose of ‘their’ doctoral theses, minutes from meetings, magazines, or specialist literature, and a lot accumulates over the years. Now is the chance to part with cherished things that are actually no longer needed.”

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