Architecture duo adds Nebraska buildings to national database

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Architecture duo adds Nebraska buildings to national database

UNL architecture faculty (from left) Keith Sawyers and Peter Olshavsky are gathering historic information on 100 classic Nebraska buildings for a national architecture website. The project will be completed in spring 2016.

Architecture faculty from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln are working to add the history of Nebraska’s classic buildings to a national database.

The project, led by UNL’s Keith Sawyers and Peter Olshavsky, will present the history of about 100 Nebraska buildings on the Society of Architectural Historians’ SAH Archipedia: Classic Buildings website. Created by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press, the site highlights featured buildings/structures from all 50 states, providing historic information ranging from the year built and purposes over time to building materials and architectural style.

Sawyers and Olshavsky have selected, written, photographed and created meta-data for about 50 Nebraska buildings featured on the website. The second half of the project is scheduled to be online in the spring.

“I hope scholars, students and others interested in the study of architecture will find the content valuable due to the descriptions and photos,” said Olshavsky, assistant professor of architecture. “Also I hope they find the Archipedia’s meta-data links useful in gaining a broader understanding of American architecture and its relation to Nebraska.”

A goal of the project is to encourage site visitors to be more than just a knowledge consumer.

“I hope the project helps shift the study and teaching of architectural history away from a focus on a small sample of signature works by giving a wider array of projects to study across the United States,” Olshavsky said. “This will help people understand how architectural movements were translated into specific geographic areas and how different socio-cultural groups adopted architectural works and building technologies.”

One of the biggest challenges has been limiting Nebraska entries to 100 buildings. Through the editing process, well-qualified projects had to be cut, primarily because other entries were better architectural representations of geography, chronology, culture, building type, materials and/or style.

“Deciding what belonged on the list and what had to be excluded was difficult,” said Sawyers, professor emeritus.

The first half of the project was completed with assistance of architecture graduates Kendra Heimes and Hannah Schurrer, who recorded photos of buildings in the northeast part of the state.

For more information on the project, or to explore Nebraska buildings featured on the website, click here.

SAH Archipedia is an online architecture encyclopedia published by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press. It includes histories, photographs and maps of more than 14,000 structures and places. It is a free, open-access site.

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