On 25 August, the foundation stone was laid for the House of Letters. © Photo: Toms Grīnbergs, University of Latvia Department of Communication

As the University of Latvia (UL) Academic Centre in Torņakalns continues to grow as a contribution to contemporary Latvia, on 25 August, the foundation stone was laid for the House of Letters, which will rise next to the House of Nature and the House of Science. Very soon – next year, it will open its doors to students and academic staff. Its eight floors will become a home to several institutes, the UL Library, Business Incubator, six faculties, the UL Culture Centre and amateur art collectives. This will be the largest of the Academic Centre buildings – 26 000 m2.

UL is investing approximately 49 million euros, including VAT, to construct and equip the House of Letters. Of these, 30 million have been raised from the European Investment Bank, 11.5 million – from the Council of Europe Development Bank, and the university contributes 7.4 million euros.

Professor Indriķis Muižnieks, Rector of the University of Latvia: “Today we are laying the foundation stone for another Palace of Light, this building affirms the importance of humanities and social sciences in Latvia. The House of Letters is not just a building, it is a firm proof that these research and academic fields are appreciated, – it is the largest investment since the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia. UL has been established to create excellence – a step closer to growth”.

On behalf of the UL Eco-Council, the UL Student Council placed a customized sustainability pictogram created with a 3D printer in the capsule as a promise to future generations to address the global climate crisis and the economic, social and environmental challenges arising because of it.

Minister of Finance Jānis Reirs: “Science, education and research are critically important for the development of Latvia's human capital and the growth of the national economy, therefore the investments of international financial institutions in these sectors play the key role. The financing of the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank for the modernization of the University of Latvia Academic Centre will help promote the growth of science and research in Latvia, providing an innovative environment for students and researchers and contributing to the country's international competitiveness. The new UL House of Letters will mark Latvia on the map of Europe in the field of research in the sphere of humanities and social sciences. The successful cooperation of the University of Latvia, the Ministry of Finance and international financial institutions over several years has enabled to create the modernization project of the UL Academic Centre, which will provide an invaluable contribution to society and the university, and is also appealing for financiers. The new UL House of Letters will be accessible to people with disabilities, – thus, it will resolve an issue which presented difficulties in the old buildings of several faculties. Furthermore, by combining six faculties and several institutions under one roof, administrative and maintenance expenses will be reduced.”

“Notably, the materials and technologies used in the construction process of the House of Letters will ensure the sustainability of the building, efficient management and help the UL to advance towards its aim to become a “green university”. Thus, in addition to being proud of a high-quality and inclusive education process, we will also be able to congratulate its environmentally friendly character. It is no secret that caring for the environment and sustainability are crucial aspects for young people,” emphasized Minister of Education and Science Anita Muižniece.

The participants of the ceremonial occasion included Zane Petre, Head of the European Commission Representation in Latvia, Professor Ivars Kalviņš, President of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Marina Ismaila, Senior Public Sector Banker at European Investment Bank, Diana Bertje, Baltic States Project Manager at the Council of Europe Development Bank, Mārīte Straume, Chairwoman of the Board of JSC “RERE Grupa”, future “owners” of the House of Letters – representatives of faculties, institutes and structural units, as well as students, UL cooperation partners, local residents and associations.