Nebraska Union Redevelopment

Plans outlining potential renovations to the Nebraska Union will be presented during open forums on April 15 and 16. The forums are 3 to 5 p.m. April 15 in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center's Unity room, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 16 in the Nebraska Union.

Charlie Francis, director of the Nebraska Unions, said the redevelopment of the Nebraska Union is being considered to increase UNL branding within the building, to adapt to the changing needs of students, and as a student recruitment tool that could increase enrollment.

Workshop Architects, a Milwaukee-based architecture firm that specializes in student union projects, is developing the renovation concepts. Representatives of the firm have visited campus twice to collect data to develop the three concepts that will be presented during the open forums.

"Workshop talks about spaces being transactional or relational," said Francis. "Through our discussions, we've found that the Nebraska Union is more of a transactional space, where students come to get something then leave. What we want is to make it more of a relational space, where they continue to come and make those transactions, but stay here to hangout."

Francis said Workshop is considering all options, including a total internal redesign of the building and expansion options.

"We want to be sure that we offer students the right offices adjacent to each other and that the right services and amenities are in the correct places within the building," said Francis.

The three concepts presented in the open forums are designed to generate comments from faculty, staff and students. Francis said feedback received will help shape the concepts into one overall plan.

"I think, in the end, we'll end up with a combination of the three ideas that are being presented," said Francis. "At this point, the feedback from the users of the building is very important."

Crafting renovation concepts is the first step toward redeveloping the Nebraska Union. There are no definite plans to move forward with the renovation once a final plan is presented this summer.

"This is all in the planning and idea phase," Francis said. "Once we have a plan available, then we'll start having other conversations about the future of the Nebraska Union."

Workshop Architects was selected through a competitive bid process. Other bids were submitted by MHTN Architects of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Perkins+Will Designs of Atlanta.

Student union projects developed by Workshop Architects include six within the University of Wisconsin system. Workshop also led projects at the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Oklahoma State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, St. Cloud State University, Cardinal Stritch University, Gustavus Adolphus College and Emporia State University.

The open forum sessions are free and open to the public.