Thursday, October 22, 2009

Urgernt Information on the Industrial Arts Building!

I received this information today via Heritage Nebraska. Please take action on this! I called my local regent today - they need to hear from you! For a list of all UNL Regents, click here.

Contact a Regent

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents is to receive a preliminary report Friday [October 23] from consultants on the proposed Nebraska Innovation Campus which will be located on the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds. In September, the consultants recommended demolition of the Industrial Arts Building.

On October 12, Regents and UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman and University President J.B. Milliken received copies of another report from Heritage Nebraska and the Preservation Association of Lincoln dealing with the 1913 building which has played a major part in the history of Nebraska and Lincoln.

The report said the building is “a very good candidate for rehabilitation.” It further notes that “rehabilitation would be very feasible technically as well as functionally and economically.”

In preparing the report for Heritage Nebraska and PAL, Lincoln historic preservation architects Jerry Berggren and Dan Worth and Steve Kelley of Wiss Janney Elstner in Chicago, uncovered some interesting history of the 93,500 square-foot trapezoidal building which was built in 1913 at a cost of $100,000. Not only was the building, designed by prominent Omaha architect Burd F. Miller, unique among state fairs nationwide because of its design, it also served as an aircraft assembly plant for the Lincoln Standard Airplane. Aviation legend Charles Lindburgh came to Lincoln and learned to fly in a Lincoln Standard assembled at the plant.

Worth wrote that while the building has some limited areas of deterioration, it is in relatively good condition compared to many structures the consultants have seen. He noted that the Industrial Arts Building is in better shape than an old Union Pacific freight depot in Omaha was before it was converted to the Harriman National Dispatching Center for the railroad.

The report said the cost to rehabilitate the entire exterior of the building would be about the same as it would be to demolish the building and construct an empty new shell building for the Innovation campus. “Reuse of a solid building shell rather than demolition and replacement would be a more sustainable approach,” the report said. Consultants urged Heritage Nebraska and PAL to join the University in a careful study to promote rehabilitation options for the structure.

Here’s how you can help. Contact a Regent. Tell them you support saving and re-using this important building. A list of Regents and their contact information is available here. I have also included talking points.

TALKING POINTS when you call or e-mail the Regents:

1. THIS PLACE MATTERS. The Industrial Arts Building was a world-class building when it was constructed in 1913. It played a major role in the development of the Nebraska State Fair and was a showcase for agriculture and technology.

The cost to rehabilitate the entire exterior of the building would be about the same as it would be to demolish the building and construct an empty new shell building for the Innovation campus.

Holes in the roof should be fixed first and the building can then be properly moth-balled until a new use is found. At 93,500 square feet, the uses are endless. In the heyday of the Fair, the railroad displayed one of the first refrigerated railcars in the building. Agricultural equipment was also displayed there. Airplanes were manufactured in the building, including the plane in which aviation pioneer Charles Lindburgh learned to fly.

What better place to teach and use green building techniques. Replacement of the windows and the skylights that were original to the building would make it unique among such structures. Students could learn and practice the techniques while rehabilitating the building. The Industrial Arts Building would make a unique tractor/implement museum as well as a teaching facility and green building hands-on laboratory.

It takes energy to construct a new building. It saves energy to preserve an old one. That’s innovation.

6. JOBS: A million dollars spent in new construction generates 30.6 jobs. But that same million dollars in the rehabilitation of an historic building creates 35.4 jobs. –Donovan Rypkema, Principal, PlaceEconomics, Washington, DC.



Anonymous said...

How about creating a local and unversity driven environmental center. It could be used by the community and the university as a local research and learning center. I have used the IAB for past environmental education and service events, and it worked great. I even have a name to suggest; THE L.E.A.R.N. Center. That stands for the Lincoln Environmental Advocacy and Research Network Center. This site would be perfect as a conduit for research, learning and community cooperation towards sustainability and environmental awareness. It could house student groups, where lectures could be given, community environmental challenges championed and so on.

Chase M. Becker said...


Great idea! I would encourage you to email any of your ideas and suggestions to - this is the group that is really doing the footwork to save this historic building.