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A Team with a Cause: How Room Management Is Tackling the Relocation to Domshof

Assessing, planning, discussing, organizing: Relocating an entire faculty and more requires a great deal of skill and patience

Campus Life

One faculty, two institutes, and one advisory center are moving. More than 160 professors, research assistants, and administrative staff as well as 1,500 students are packing their belongings to move to Forum at Domshof. This has to be organized by the university’s Room Management team – a mammoth task.

Two women, one statement: “This is definitely stressful. We are up to the eyeballs in work.” Heike Hemmersbach and Andrea Saathoff from the university’s Room Management team once again demonstrate their expertise – and tackle the many demands from different areas, from within university and externally, from early in the morning until late at night. “Sometimes it’s hard to switch off even after work or at the weekend,” Heike Hemmersbach remarks. This is because Room Management is currently facing perhaps the biggest challenge the team has ever faced: organizing the relocation of an entire faculty, two institutes, and one advisory center from campus to the city center.

The two experienced room managers of course also speak on behalf of their colleagues, Andreas Aepler, Benny Nielsen, Thomas Gerden, Nicole Trumpf, Heiko Schlemm, Anita Süllow, and Rosita Ohlendorf. “We have to manage this move of the Faculty of Law to the city, but the usual workload remains,” explains Head Hemmersbach. “The move to Domshof is ‘on top’ of our regular work. Complex challenges can be mastered if a team sticks together. “And that is exactly what we do,” says Andrea Saathoff, “I think we’ve grown even closer together.”

Heike Hemmersbach sits at her desk among lots of paperwork.
Assessing, planning, discussing, organizing: Relocating an entire faculty and more requires a lot of skill, patience – and paperwork – from room manager Heike Hemmersbach.
© Matej Meza / Universität Bremen

They are a team with a cause. The Room Management team is very experienced with relocations. They already managed the relocation of the entire economics faculty from the Wilhelm-Herbst-Straße site to the new WiWi 1 and WiWi 2 buildings on campus in 2018. “We are now befitting from this practical experience and from the fact that initially there were discussions about moving a large part of the university to the former Sparkasse am Brill,” Hemmersbach states. At the time, it was estimated that up to one third of the university might be relocated to the city center. There was talk of moving as many as 8,000 students.

Who Is Located Where and Next to Whom?

Even back then, room management was all about assessing, planning, and discussing. “We are usually among the first ones to be brought on board for such considerations. The first step is always to assess if there is room for everyone at the new location,” Saathoff states. Will the “big picture” and each of its parts be provided with suitable conditions that will allow everyone to work as comfortably and productively as before? Who is located where and next to whom? The fact that the new location in the historic city center is smaller does not aid the task.

The relocation of the law faculty, the Center of Labor and Politics (zap), the Institute for Labour and Economy (iaw), and the Here Ahead center to “Forum at Domshof”, as the new building in the city center is called, is just as challenging. This is because the layout of the former headquarters of Nord/LB Bank is very different from the current university premises and the various locations of Juridicum. Although the initial plans and proposals of the Room Management worked out in theory, they were, of course, not identical with the ideas of the faculty. The move allows the faculty to restructure and improve its current situation. It is easy to imagine that this process involves discussions, negotiations, and phone calls. “We have to reconcile many different interests,” Heike Hemmersbach states. “University management, deans, office occupants, landlords – everyone has their own ideas.” We are talking about almost 15,000 square meters of office space that need to be organized. But in the end it worked out: The rooms in the new city center building have been allocated.

The First Moving Trucks Will Make Their Way on October 1

On October 1, the first moving trucks will make their way from GW1 building to Forum at Domshof – not a single day before, because the landlord of the Nord/LB building will need until the very last day of September to prepare the building according to the university’s needs. A large number of moving trucks will then head towards the city center. The Room Management has found an experienced company through a call to tender. They will have to observe all the important guidelines and, despite the public holiday on October 3, manage to pack, carry, deliver, and move everything to the designated rooms on time, so that Faculty 6 will be able to welcome 300 first-year students there for orientation week on October 8. A week later, another 1,200 students plan to resume their courses there without any restrictions.

A room plan of the Forum am Domshof
The rooms in the new city center building have been allocated: Almost 15,000 square meters of office space required organization.
© Matej Meza / Universität Bremen

The building at Domshof is ideally suited for the university’s purposes and requires only minor alterations. However, there is still a lot of work to be done before moving in: Painters, carpenters, electricians, ventilation fitters, drywallers, and many more have months of work ahead of them. For the most part, they will focus on one floor at a time. Heike Hemmersbach and Andrea Saathoff praise the excellent cooperation with the representatives of the Nord/LB landlord: “It’s fun. Our contact Benjamin Krohne is very creative in his search for solutions – and he finds them.”

Excitement over the New Building

Andrea Saathoff is excited about the new building: “It is a beautiful property built to the most modern standards, and the architecture is an attractive and successful fusion of new and old, flooded with light; and it is air-conditioned.” The dining hall area on the top level is wonderful: “We are looking forward to what Studierendenwerk will make of it.” In her opinion, the multifunctional former banking hall will not only be an ideal meeting place for students, lecturers, and staff, but also will be a great place for connecting with the community, as the university will be able to hold public events there. Andrea Saathoff and Heike Hemmersbach agree: “Forum at Domshof is a place the university can look forward to.”

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