LEO A DALY Wins Preservation Award for Brace Hall Restoration

undefinedInternational architecture and engineering firm LEO A DALY was honored by the Preservation Association of Lincoln with the 2015 Commercial/Institutional Rehabilitation award for the restoration of Brace Hall, a historic 1905 laboratory building at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL). The award, given in a March 8 ceremony by Lincoln’s Preservation Planner, Ed Zimmer, recognizes superior rehabilitation or adaptive reuse of a commercial or institutional property.

The $8 million project, which opened to students in the fall semester of 2014, restored Brace Hall’s original tiered auditorium, introduced state-of-the-art life-science laboratories, and facilitated the University’s exploration of collaborative classrooms. Energy efficiency was improved through new HVAC systems (replacing radiators and window units), LED lighting, all new windows, and upgraded insulation.

“This project restores a historic building, giving it new life as a modern, energy-efficient, and high-tech learning environment.  This will help the University compete and grow,” said Christopher Johnson, managing principal at Leo A Daly.

undefined“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 walled-in above 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.

undefined“Research suggests that learners acquire more knowledge faster when working with others, and so collaborative learning environments are increasingly in demand,” said Martin Lane, project manager with LEO A DALY. “All the classrooms we designed at Brace Hall are built around an active-learning model, with collaborative spaces for independent study, 1-on-1 tutoring, small group activities, and large group meetings.”

The new biology labs alleviates a shortage of undergraduate laboratory space at UNL, and will help the university prepare for an expected 20 percent increase in enrollment by 2017, administrators said.

“What is significant about this space is that the entire building is dedicated to supporting undergraduate teaching and learning,” said Lance C Perez, associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UNL. “This project has made Brace, in many ways, UNL’s most advanced instructional facility.”

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