It is not a given that everything will go smoothly this time. The renovation of Erasmus University Rotterdam’s iconic building was originally supposed to take place as far back as 2018, but was thwarted by exorbitant market prices, with the only bid the university received from a contractor significantly exceeding the maximum budget. Shortly thereafter, the building (which opened in 1968) was forced to close for a long time largely due to fire safety problems and an outbreak of legionnaire’s disease.

‘Very exciting’

The university is now putting the project out to tender again. Quanz is optimistic, despite the fact that the process will remain ‘very exciting’ for the time being. “We are currently in the middle of the tender process. Things look favourable – but of course you never know.” Moreover, there are all sorts of details to be discussed and risks to be identified in advance. “We hope to sign a contract in May”, said the head of the Real Estate department, who has been involved in the Tinbergen project for years. “It really is kind of my baby.” How much the redevelopment is set to cost this time around, Quanz could not yet say because of the ongoing tendering process. However, he confirmed that it would be even more expensive than the bid from five years ago.

The intervening years have one major advantage: the old plans from 2017 are still the basis for the redevelopment, but have been modernised – thanks in part to lessons the university learned during the construction of the Polak Building, the Langeveld Building and the sports centre. “There is now a greater focus on a work environment that people feel comfortable in, so there will be much more greenery in the building than in the original plans”, Quanz said. Indeed, the artist impressions show planters everywhere.

Outdoor seating on the square

There will also be more vistas, giving the building a much more open character. Visitors using the new, enlarged entrance on Institutenlaan will find themselves in a large atrium, with the two floors above opened up. All the glass is being replaced with a more insulating variety and a great deal is changing behind the scenes in terms of sustainability. “The technology is going to change massively – there will be LED lamps and energy-efficient installations.” The offices and teaching spaces will be more open and flexible to use and will have the latest audiovisual equipment.

The building will also be made to look slightly different on the outside. Part of the restaurant on the K.P. van der Mandeleplein side will be opened up and restored to its original 1968 condition, changing into outdoor seating. The rooftop will feature a new glass floor, which will house a restaurant and spaces for events such as symposiums. Finally, the passageway towards the Theil Building will be opened up at ground level, so that visitors can walk from the University Library to the plaza al fresco.

Look at the artist impressions of the renovated building below:

Professorial mortar boards

The Tinbergen Building is a listed municipal building, which means that the planners had to consult with Rotterdam’s Building Aesthetics Committee. This occasionally yielded interesting historical facts. Quanz: “For example, we wanted to make the low windows at the top of the passageway to the Theil Building bigger to get more light in. The Committee put a stop to this. As it turned out, the windows were entirely part of the original design. In 1968, the professors would walk from the Tinbergen Building through that passageway to the Aula for ceremonies and you would be able to see their mortar boards passing by behind those low windows from the outside.”

Task force to monitor accessibility

Another issue that is now a greater priority than in 2017 is accessibility – or dealing with ‘limited mobility’, as Quanz calls it. EUR was heavily criticised by students and staff with a disability for the poor accessibility in many respects of the new Langeveld Building. In response, the university promised new policies that would be included in the plans for the Tinbergen Building.

According to Quanz, this is why there is now much more focus on this issue. “There is a task force, consisting of the architect, an external accessibility expert and staff with knowledge and experience in this field (from Real Estate & Facilities and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility [IDEA]) that has been involved from the very beginning of the process.” The task force does not include people with a disability.

Quanz believes that the additional focus on this issue has led to – among other things – a ramp for wheelchair users and changes to the size and height of the sinks in the disabled toilets. “There will also be gender-neutral toilets”, Quanz added. Not everywhere – most floors will have separate ladies and gents toilets ‘so everyone has a choice’.

A pontoon in the pond

As of the new year, the last two occupants – the editorial office of Erasmus Magazine (EM is moving to the G Building) and the Etude restaurant – have also left the Tinbergen Building. In March, campus visitors will begin to see the first signs of the redevelopment, with barriers being erected and the construction site being set up. A pontoon in the pond in front of the University Library will act as a bridge for construction site traffic. Work will start in earnest in June. The building is scheduled to reopen in 2026.



Tinbergen building to remain closed for the next few years

The Tinbergen building on the Woudestein Campus is to remain closed for the time being.…