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2018 AIA Nebraska Excellence in Design Awards: Merit winners

December 3, 2018 GMT


Firm: Randy Brown Architects

Project name: xsFlowz

Location: Omaha

Owner: Paul and Djel Ann Brown

Photographer: Assassi

Buddhism teaches a state of mind known as the “doing without doing.” Psychologists today call this heightened mental state of being “flow.” Randy Brown Architects’ approach was to connect with the land, create complex spatial fluidity and highlight with daylight to create an environment that uplifts people into the higher mental state of flow. The building is formed by two white tubes that twist, intersect, splinter and morph together creating a curvy, sculptural mass that follows the site topography. The house can be described as serene and calming, with colorful views of virgin prairie and wildlife. Yet the experience of the hard glass stair treads, searching for hidden light switches and living in a “house without curtains” challenges the users on a daily basis and pushes them “out of their comfort zone.”


Jury comments: This sculptural residence links bold curvilinear forms on the exterior with the shaping of natural and artificial light on the interior with innovative and unexpected results.


Firm: TACKarchitects

Project name: Jackson Dinsdale Art Center

Location: Hastings, Nebraska

Owner: Hastings College

Photographer: Tom Kessler

Located in central Nebraska on the Hasting College campus, the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center has become an iconic art piece for the college and the community. The building is broken down into three main functions: glassblowing, ceramics and metal working. Each is represented in the design of the project. The glass-blowing portion is shown on the southwest corner of the building. This space hosts the art gallery and becomes an iconic jewel box for the work of students as well as famous artists. Ceramics plays its part within the masonry brick on the façade that surrounds the southern and northern portion of the building. The metal working is represented with the scrim. This piece consists of metal perforated panels that are attached to a triangulation of metal tubes.

Jury comments: This new building establishes a strong identity for the art center at a strategic intersection between an existing campus and an adjacent residential community. It eloquently combines a glowing glass box signaling gallery entry with a dynamic faceted metal scrim framing activity in its workshops.



Firm: Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture

Project name: River’s Edge Pavilion

Location: Council Bluffs

Owner: City of Council Bluffs

Photographer: Corey Gaffer Photography

River’s Edge Pavilion seeks to blur the edges between infrastructure, landscape and architecture through the sculpting of public space. Conceptualized as a “front porch” for the revitalizing post-industrial riverfront development, the building acts as a continuation of the ribbon of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that leads into the Tom Hanafan interstate park trail system. The Pavilion’s L-shaped massing establishes a parenthetical edge that embraces and activates the waterfront during both day and night. The interior contains spaces dedicated to community events, a public-use meeting room, public restrooms and a catering kitchen along with generous outdoor spaces and patios for events and community activities. Jury comments: This small public building skillfully choreographs new and meaningful relationships between public infrastructure, architecture and landscape.This pavilion is a pivotal piece of new public realm linking community and the water’s edge.


Firm: HDR

Project name: Bellevue University Science Labs

Location: Bellevue

Owner: Bellevue University

Photographer: Dan Schwalm

The Bellevue University Science Labs are located on campus in the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center, originally constructed in 1992. A 10,000-square-foot renovation of the Science Department reconfigured and increased the size of the labs and the total teaching space while upgrading technology and equipment throughout. Collaboration spaces and flexible furniture foster increased connections between students and professors to stimulate new ideas. The reconfiguration of the labs allowed access to natural daylight. Placing science on display, the design provides a minimal and transparent solution with clear visibility into the four teaching labs from the main “Science Corridor.” The continuous glass façade of the labs and seating activates the corridor, promoting collaboration outside of the classroom, further increasing opportunities to interact and learn.

Jury comments: The hidden structure in the 1990s building is cleverly exposed and featured in this sophisticated and successful renovation resulting in revitalized teaching labs for experimentation and exchange between students and faculty. New continuous glass walls below a consistent datum separate teaching and circulation spaces while creating a visual atmosphere of openness and lightness.


Firm: DeOld Andersen Architecture

Project name: Settlement Patterns

Location: Omaha

Owner: Omaha Creative Institute

Firm: DeOld Andersen Architecture

Settlement Patterns is a response to an artist-run exhibition bringing together artists and designers whose work proposes, in function or content, alternative solutions for developing greener, more sustainable urban ecologies. Responding to the conventional American suburban landscape that privileges human occupancy in buildings fetishized as a marketable product, this project seeks alternative solutions to unproductive landscapes that absorb time and money, and that also fail to support the broader ecosystems that create habitat for animals and insects, foster larger ecosystems or allow for the production of local food.

Jury comments: This visionary project speculates about future ways of inhabiting and working the land simultaneously. Its proposed experimental settlement patterns encourage us to think about new and more sustainable ways of reshaping our landscape and built form.


Firm: Sinclair Hille Architects

Project name: Innovation Commons Canopy – Nebraska Innovation Campus

Location: Lincoln

Owner: Corn Club LLC (Managed by Tetrad Property Group)

Photographer: Michael Robinson

To provide shade along building edge and to help establish the thematic elements of Innovation Campus: water, fuel and food.

Jury comments: The playful shadows that result from this custom perforated steel canopy connect this architectural element to its local agricultural context in meaningful ways.


Project name: AVA©

Firm: MOD Furniture (Actual Architecture Company + Min Design)

Photographer: Bruce Damonte, San Francisco

AVA© is a stackable display system to highlight collections, books and other precious possessions. The unit’s recursive geometry allows for multiple stacking options from the simple and repetitive to the highly dynamic and unexpected. Strong magnets hold the units together. Used individually, AVA© is a stool, a side table or even a planter. AVA© also may be integrated into architecture as a partition screen, or part of a wall system or cabinet.

Jury comments: The robust concrete walls of the San Francisco Art Institute’s 1963 addition by Paffard Keatinge-Clay provides the inspiration and starting point for this playful and sculptural metal shelving system, which can be reconfigured and reinvented in a variety of ways. The monochrome version painted white accentuates the plasticity of the tetrahedron geometry created by the folded brake-formed metal units.


Project name: Searching for the Ineffable

Emerging architects: Danny Ortega and Rachel McCown, University of Nebraska College of Architecture students

This project explores ways to evoke sacredness without religious affiliation. It is a sacred space for mourners and visitors who seek self-contemplation, a place to gather, and a place to remember those who have passed, through strategies of space, sensation and natural phenomena. The design is a non-denominational space for visitors of diverse religious affiliations. Three main programs drive the form and division of the buildings with connecting points between each one. The Reception, Sanctum and Mausoleum work simultaneously to create a sequential experience using material qualities and light. Our intent is that through strategies of atmosphere, form, scale, materiality, illumination and shadow, we foster an environment with a quiet but strong presence that can encourage experiences of the ineffable.

Jury comments: A moving sacred space for gathering and remembrance is presented through strong perspectives that capture the experience, the atmosphere and the play of light and shadow in this project. The jury appreciated the restrained material palette and unexpected arrangement of space, both in plan and section.