More than 50 campus construction projects are in progress and 400-plus are in various stages of completion as summer construction commences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
“The driver behind a lot of the projects we have going on is to support spaces to teach, learn and research,” said Brooke Hay, assistant vice president of University of Nebraska Facilities, Planning and Capital Programs. “When you look at the mission of the university, most require a physical space. As education and research evolve, they need different kinds of spaces. That’s where we come into play and ask what kinds of facilities are needed, and what’s the most efficient way to go about that. We want to use our spaces well and have a positive ecosystem on campus.”
Summer is a popular time for campus construction, as student traffic decreases and makes room for larger demolitions. This year’s construction volume is higher than usual, due in part to collaboration with the state through LB384 and LB957. Through these bills, vital updates such as roofs, HVAC systems and fire safety systems can be made.
The university is also undergoing a number of large projects. The most visible projects this summer include the Kiewit Hall construction, Piper Hall demolition and Love Library cupola renovation.
Piper Hall, located south end of the Neihardt Complex, will be demolished and converted into open green space, with the option to use the space for other purposes in the future.
“This project is probably going to be the most transformational,” Hay said. “People are going to be surprised. I think it will be somewhat similar to when we took Cather-Pound down. All of a sudden you saw the back of Neihardt and it really changed how it felt. This is going to be big to take this building out and have views through this area.”
Demolition inside Piper has started with asbestos abatement that will take approximately six weeks. The project is scheduled to be completed during the first part of the fall semester.
The project will create a walking corridor that spans City Campus from east to west, creating more open space, and offering greater opportunities for future development.
“One of the campus planning goals is to try to open this area up more and have a great walkway to the east,” Hay said. “The current path is so narrow. If we take this section down, we can achieve some of the ADA passage requirements and have a more universal passage. This real estate also has a lot greater value to be on the green space exterior side than in the building.”
While the campus planning team would have preferred to deconstruct rather than demo the building and salvage some materials, separating the hazardous materials proved too difficult. The materials will be disposed of in the city dump and will be taken east of the building through 17th Street.
Any traffic redirections will be marked with cones and other signals. The pedestrian walkway between Piper Hall and Chi Omega sorority will be closed for safety, and pedestrians will be re-directed to the south to walk along the R Street sidewalks or north of the Neihardt Complex.
Love Library Cupola
The Love Library cupola is undergoing major external restoration. The iconic structure will be under construction for another eight to 10 weeks.
The library remains open during construction, and covered walkways have been placed to protect pedestrians. Minor interruptions such as noise may occur, and the southeast entrance and sidewalk will be closed during the last weeks while a crane is on-site.
While some of the Go Big construction is underway near the East Stadium Loop, there will also be road closures due to utility work along Vine Street through the loop. The work will be completed in phases, and those who may be affected should watch for email notifications from Parking and Transit Services.
The Kiewit Hall project will continue toward its scheduled completion for occupancy in January 2024, and the current Vine Street redirection will remain in place.
Architecture Hall renovations have started and will soon shift into a second phase. The project is relocating the Architecture Hall Library and expanding design studio and work spaces within the university’s oldest structure.
Phase one of this project is adding 12 new design studios, a wellness room, spray booth and work areas, critique spaces, new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant restrooms and a new 2,490 square-foot library with student common and collaboration areas — all by spring of 2023. Renovations will be done in both Architecture Hall East and Architecture Hall West. Phase two involves an expansion that will add 14 new studios and a renovation of eight studios in the Architecture Hall West building among other changes. Learn more about the project.
Removal and related utility work may be completed the summer. The project will continue into the fall and there are plans to direct pedestrian traffic around the construction zone.
On East Campus, Barkly Memorial Center will continue to be under construction through the summer. In addition to various smaller projects, the next phases of the Legacy Plaza project are expected to begin and continue through the fall.
This phase would focus on updates to the Dairy Story and Nebraska East Union and involve adding porches and green space, similar to those at the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons.
The most visible projects this summer will also involve some traffic interruptions.
As depicted above, Kiewit Hall’s construction impacting Vine Street will continue. Piper Hall’s construction will close the pedestrian walkway between Piper and Chi Omega sorority, redirecting foot traffic. The Piper demolition crews and materials will exit the east side of the building, by 17th Street. The Love Library cupola will impact the southeast entry to the building when the crane is present, and some pedestrian walkways have been covered for protection. Vine Street utility work will close portions of the street and the East Stadium loop throughout the summer, and Architecture Hall construction may redirect pedestrian traffic as needed.
These projects will all be marked with proper cones and signage, and campus entities such as Parking Services will notify those who may be affected.
For the numerous smaller projects, affected individuals will get notices from their building maintenance reporters of any outages or other disruptions that may happen during construction and upgrades.
“One of the things that the university does that’s really helpful to us as a projects group is every building has a few people assigned to be their maintenance reporters,” Hay said. “We use them in conjunction with the Service Desk at UNL to notify them about things that are going on and different types of disruptions.”
Additional summer work
Many other projects will be started and finished over the course of the summer. For example, Carolyn Pope Edwards Hall (replacement of Mabel Lee Hall) will be completed and will open in the fall, 25 different parking lot locations will see lighting upgrades and more.
Many projects are funded by LB384.
“LB384 is really about capital renewal,” Hay said. “As things age, they need to be taken care of and that’s the focus of this money. We’re at a time in our campus where a lot of building systems are coming to the end of their first useful life so we’re seeing a peak of need.”
These upgrades include energy-efficient LED lighting, roof repairs and fire safety upgrades.
As campus improvements continue through the summer, anyone with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-472-3131.