KEARNEY – Discovery Hall.
The name says it all.
The NU Board of Regents approved this fitting title Friday for the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s newest building, a 90,000-square-foot facility that will promote collaboration and innovation across numerous academic departments, allowing students and faculty to pursue ideas that keep the university and state moving forward.
Known during planning stages as the STEM building, Discovery Hall will house UNK’s construction management, industrial distribution, interior and product design, aviation, cyber systems, mathematics and statistics, physics, astronomy and engineering programs.
“Having the building named for ‘discovery’ notes UNK’s focus on both the processes of research, innovative thought and creative activities, and finding and strengthening new collaborative connections among the faculty, staff and students from the academic disciplines who share this space,” UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.
“‘Discovery’ is reinforced as our focus for pushing ourselves to exciting new places, both figuratively and literally, in our pursuit of knowledge. UNK celebrates the student experience – at which discovery is the center. The discovery name fits us, and it works for this innovative academic building.”
A number of events to tour, showcase and celebrate the $30 million building’s completion will be planned for the summer.
The building located northeast of West Center and south of Ockinga Hall on UNK’s west campus will provide a cross-disciplinary environment that links science, technology, engineering and math programs. Inside the three-story structure, lab and classroom spaces are designed to meet each program’s specific needs while maintaining a level of flexibility for collaborative projects.
The building also features plenty of natural lighting, open areas where students can study and interact and a number of glass enclosures that allow students, faculty and visitors to observe lab and instructional work from outside the room.
After using “STEM building” as a placeholder since the building concept began, in January students, faculty and staff were polled for their input on the name. A donor or name could eventually be added if the opportunity for that honor emerges, Kristensen said.
Led by general contractor Hausmann Construction of Lincoln, construction of Discovery Hall is expected to be substantially complete by June 1. Programs will begin transitioning to the new building this summer, and the project should be finalized by the start of fall classes in August.
Discovery Hall is the final piece of a multifaceted project that replaces the 65-year-old Otto C. Olsen building, which has been on the state’s capital construction replacement list for more than 20 years.
Funding for the project came from renewal bonds and through state appropriation from LB858, the University of Nebraska Facilities Program of 2016. That appropriation directed deferred maintenance funding to NU facility replacement projects, including the Otto Olsen building. That replacement funding also supported construction of the LaVonne Kopecky Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center and an addition for art at the Fine Arts Building – with programs previously housed in Otto Olsen.
Construction start: May 2018
Opening: August 2020
Cost: Part of a $30 million project replacing Otto C. Olsen
Size: 90,000 square feet
Location: West of 19th Avenue between University Drive and U.S. Highway 30. It is on the west end of UNK’s campus, northeast of West Center and south of Ockinga Hall.
Replaces: Otto C. Olsen, which was built in 1955 and has been on the state’s capital construction replacement list for more than 20 years
Funding: It is paid for by renewal bonds and through state appropriation from LB858, the University of Nebraska Facilities Program of 2016. That appropriation directed deferred maintenance funding to facility replacement projects, including the Otto Olsen building.
Academic programs: Construction management, industrial distribution, interior and product design, aviation, cyber systems, mathematics and statistics, physics, astronomy and engineering