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VU Amsterdam Main Building turns 50!

12 April 2023 10:30 - 17:00

The Main Building of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam marks its 50th anniversary on 12 April 2023. We plan to celebrate this milestone with a symposium.

'This building will actually never be entirely finished' [1]: 50 years of VU Amsterdam Main Building

On 12 April this year, VU Amsterdam will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Main Building on De Boelelaan. Half a century of use has not gone unnoticed in terms of the building and its surroundings. In 1973, it was one of the largest and tallest buildings in Amsterdam and it still stands out today amidst a radically changed landscape. 

During the festive symposium we will shine a spotlight on the 50-year-old landmark. We will look back through the years, reflect on how the building and campus function in the present day and also look ahead to the future. The spatial history and architecture of the VU campus and the wider area of Buitenveldert and the Zuidas district will be a central focus in the programme. 

In a series of lectures, a small exhibition, guided tours and a concluding discussion we will highlight the Main Building from every angle and show how VU Amsterdam has remained a characteristic and dynamic part of Amsterdam.


With contributions from

  • Iris Burgers (architecture)
  • Ab Flipse (construction and transformation of the VU campus)
  • Imke van Hellemondt (the campus landscape)
  • Freek Schmidt (the teaching building)
  • Minke Walda (VU Amsterdam and Buitenveldert: architectural-urban planning perspective) 

with special guests 

  • Ton Schaap (Real Urbanism)
  • Sander Nelissen (WdJArchitecten) and others

Further details of the programme to follow soon.

Date and venue

12 April 2023, 10:30-17:00, Auditorium, Main Building, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Sign up!


The day is organised by the Chair history of architecture and the living environment and university historian Ab Flipse, in close collaboration with and with support from the VUvereniging, the CLUE+ research institute, the University Library (special collections), the Document Management and Archive (DMA) department and FCO.

[1] Chr. Nielsen and R. Poel, ‘Hoofdgebouw der Vrije Universiteit. Architectengroep 69’, Bouw (1973) 15, 493-497: 493.


Walk-in 10:15 a.m., start 10:30 a.m.

Opening: Jeroen Geurts, rector magnificus VU Amsterdam
Introduction: Freek Schmidt, professor history of architecture and the living environment

Ab Flipse: 'VU Campus between ideal and reality: University and campus in a changing environment, 1953-2023'

Minke Walda: 'Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in Buitenveldert: an 'architectural-urban' perspective, 1950-1973'


Imke van Hellemondt: 'The landscape of the campus'

Iris Burgers: 'The learning building: a sustainable task'

Reinout Klaarenbeek/Eline Bos: Brief explanation of the maquette exhibition

12.50-14.30: Lunch with walk through and around the main building and campus

From 14.30

Sander Nelissen, Wessel de Jonge Architects

Kirsten Hannema, architecture critic and journalist, including de Volkskrant


Ton Schaap, realurbanism

Franc van Nunen, Campus Organization

16.30 - 17.00: Discussion with drinks afterwards

About VU Amsterdam Main Building turns 50!

Starting date

  • 12 April 2023


  • 10:30 - 17:00


  • Auditorium, Hoofdgebouw


  • De Boelelaan 1105
  • 1081 HV Amsterdam