Berlin Wall project ends in dramatic fashion

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By Thomas McAllister

Just before noon on Friday, Nov. 12, New College’s Berlin Wall fell, almost 30 years to the day of the original wall’s destruction in 1989.

The wall was the brainchild of Lauren Hansen, visiting assistant professor of German language and literature, and her students. It had stood in Koski Plaza since its construction by students, led by sculpture Professor Ryan Buyssens, on Sept. 8. The events captured the attention of local media as well as National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition.”

The demolition was the finale of the series of events related to the wall, most recently a reenactment of East German author Christa Wolf’s speech a few days before the real wall fell. The speech was delivered by two of Dr. Hansen’s students, Anna Lynn Winfrey and Emma Sunderman. The two gave the speech in both German and English, respectively, and were coached for the performance by Diego Villada, assistant professor of theater and performance studies.

Previously, student reenacted famous speeches by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Other events including weekly themed graffiti sessions and discussions, and art and film displays.

For Friday’s finale, students gathered around the wall to watch a short poster presentation by some of Hansen’s students, followed by a brief speech by Professor of History David Harvey on Germany’s reunification. After that, the monolith of drywall and lumber was doomed.

In groups of two and three, students took turns striking at the wall with hammers. In less than 15 minutes, the entire structure had been torn down, the wooden frame toppled and battered, and the drywall shattered to pieces, with students grabbing souvenirs from the wreckage – just as German citizens did three decades ago.

When asked about the wall replica, second-year student James Pollack said, “Overall, I thought it was a really good project. Especially for our generation, the Berlin Wall doesn’t hold a lot of real-world significance since we never saw it standing, so having a section helps make it feel more concrete.”

— Thomas McAllister is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing at New College of Florida.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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