Riga Technical University (RTU) turns over a new historical page and leaves the administrative building of the university at 1 Kaļķu Street, which has been the symbol of the Latvian higher education in engineering for over 60 years. On Monday, 13 December, the administration took off the granite plate with RTU name from the building’s façade. Further on, the university administration will be located at RTU student campus in Ķīpsala, where most of the faculties, the Laboratory Building, the Scientific Library and hostels are already concentrated, and which is becoming a modern engineering centre.
«On the one hand, it is a pity to leave this building, but on the other, it is time to relocate and join our other colleagues and students in our student campus,» said RTU Rector Leonīds Ribickis.
The building at Kaļķu Street has been RTU home since 1958, when the Faculty of Engineering separated from the Latvian State University and Riga Polytechnical Institute (RPI) was restored. RPI had lost its independence in 1919, when the newly established Latvian state founded the Higher School of Latvia – later the University of Latvia – on the basis of the former Riga Polytechnic.
Initially, the building at 1 Kaļķu Street was erected for the needs of a party school, however, when premises were required for the recently restored RPI, it was decided to give the building to the institute. When RPI received the Kaļķu Street building in 1958, it was not yet fully completed and RPI students were helping in construction and arrangement of the building, so that the administration and faculties could be accommodated there.
There were several faculties at 1 Kaļķu Street, for example, the former Faculty of Construction, now the Faculty of Civil Engineering, and the Department of Architecture under its auspices, now the Faculty of Architecture, as well as the Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management, the RPI Scientific Library and even the Military Science Department, where students received military training in the Soviet times.
The admission of new students and entrance examinations took place in this building; RTU graduates received their diplomas there. «My first personal recollections about this building – I remember it pretty well, that here, in lecture room No 301, I passed my entrance examination to Riga Polytechnical Institute,» said RTU Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Uldis Sukovskis.
The Kaļķu Street building has witnessed a change in the state power, the Barricades time, when defenders of the restored state gathered and warmed themselves in the building, as well as a change in the name of the higher education institution, when in 1990, RPI named after Arvīds Pelše was renamed into Riga Technical University. Already prior to that, in 1989, a group of students removed the plate with the RPI inscription from the building façade at Kaļķu Street and threw it into the Daugava River from the Stone Bridge.
It was in the Kaļķu Street building where the then administration of RPI as far back as in the 1960s took a decision to start erecting a student campus in Ķīpsala. «The construction in Ķīpsala will never stop,’ said the Rector, ‘but now we will all be together.»