UNL, architect earn preservation award for Brace Hall restoration

UNL, architect earn preservation award for Brace Hall restoration

Students take part in a life sciences lab in the renovated space inside UNL's Brace Hall. The project has earned honors from the Preservation Association of Lincoln.
Craig Chandler | University Communications
Students take part in a life sciences lab in the renovated space inside UNL's Brace Hall. The project has earned honors from the Preservation Association of Lincoln.

The restoration of Brace Hall has earned a Preservation Association of Lincoln award for the architecture and engineering firm Leo A Daly and UNL.

The honor, the 2015 Commercial/Institutional Rehabilitation award, was presented March 8 and recognizes superior rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of commercial or institutional property.

For their work on the Brace renovation, UNL's Dale Bowder and Chad Lea, project managers with Facilities Planning and Construction, received the Commercial/Institutional Award for Exemplary Service from the preservation association.

The $8 million project, which opened to students in fall 2014, restored Brace Hall's original tiered auditorium, introduced state-of-the-art life-science laboratories, and allowed UNL to create collaborative classrooms. The work on the historic 1905 laboratory building also increased energy efficiency through a new HVAC system (replacing radiators and window air conditioning units) LED lighting, new windows and upgraded insulation.

“From an architectural standpoint, this renovation is exciting because we were able to recover many of the historical touches that had been lost to the years,” said Erin Froschheiser, architect with Leo A Daly. “For example, in the process of replacing the main entry doors, workers uncovered the original cast-iron ‘Physical Laboratory’ sign, which had been hidden behind the boarded-up transom. Putting it back in place returns a sense of historic authenticity to the entryway, and sends a strong signal about UNL’s dedication to preservation.”

Throughout its three new biology labs, two collaborative mathematics classrooms, and an experimental T3 (Technology Transforming Teaching) classroom, the renovation implements the latest evidence-based pedagogical methods.

"What is significant about this space is that the entire building is dedicated to supporting undergraduate teaching and learning,” said Lance C. Pérez, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This project has made Brace, in many ways, UNL’s most advanced instructional facility.”

For more information on the Brace Hall renovation, click here.

Brace Hall
Graduate student Laura Ismet leads a mathematics lecture inside a renovated Brace Hall classroom.
A cast iron decoration uncovered during a renovation has been refurbished and returned to its place over the east door to UNL's Brace Hall. The item is believed to be original to the 107-year-old building.