AIA Nebraska Office.  Front entry with waiting area and Executive Assistant’s workspace. Photo ©HDR

AIA Nebraska Office.  Executive Director’s Office with custom hot rolled steel bent plate shelves incorporated into the Folded Red Plane. Photo ©HDR

AIA Nebraska Office.  Folded Red Plane with continuous light strip. Photo ©HDR

LHDC Work Area.  Custom wall mural fabricated from a perforated metal panel wall system of an original image of the Hardy Building from 1931.
Custom floating hot rolled steel shelves on green wall. Photo ©HDR


After 25 years the American Institute of Architects – Nebraska Chapter (AIA NE) wanted to move its office from a lower level location in the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Architecture Hall to one that would offer better access and visibility to its members and the public.  Partnering with Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation (LHDC), the two organizations agreed to combine and renovate LHDC’s current office space with an adjacent vacant space in the Hardy Building, a 1920’s warehouse in the Haymarket District of Lincoln, Nebraska.  The design challenge was three-fold: maximize the given footprint shared by the two entities, on a rather tight budget (approximately $150/SF), strengthen the brand and distinct identities of the two entities, and transform the historic warehouse into a contemporary and modern space that acknowledges its history.

In April 2012, AIA NE issued a RFP for a design competition, exclusively for fully licensed AIA members, to remodel an existing space to accommodate both AIA NE and LHDC. A financial stipend would be presented to the selected architect. Each entity had different goals. AIA NE wanted a modern, gallery-like space in which to highlight architectural work; the LHDC wanted a more traditional Prairie Style office. Totaling around 1,800 square-feet, their individual spaces were each nearly identical in size and were both to be designed by the winning RFP respondent. The AIA NE program called for space for its Executive Director and Executive Assistant, and an informal conference area. The LHDC needed space for its Executive Director and work space for a few employees. Check out the before and during construction photos on facebook.

As HDR’s Ross Miller, both an Associate AIA and AIA NE associate board director, explains, “I wanted HDR to submit on the design competition and give this organization an innovative space worthy of what they do. With that in mind, I approached Chris Barnwell, AIA, a design principal at HDR and Mike Lawyer, AIA, managing principal of the HDR Omaha office, and both supported submitting on this unique opportunity.”

As a full-service architecture firm, HDR was also able to provide interior design, electrical, mechanical and other engineering services.  The design team consisted of Project Manager Matt Kuhn, AIA, Ross Miller, Associate AIA as project designer, Doug Sholl as structural engineer, Dan Karnes as mechanical engineer, Randy Niehaus as electrical engineer, and Amanda Swartwout as interior designer.

HDR’s design submission was unanimously selected by the competition jury from among eight other entries.  AIA NE then selected Sampson Construction, with an office in Lincoln, to construct the new space. The clients chose not to assign a specific project budget, in order to avoid anything that would stymie the creative process or the design solutions. Cognizant of this, the project team went through several design iterations to minimize project costs.

The AIA NE Office space maximizes AIA NE’s engagement with its members and the larger public by creating an interface that is both physical and visual.  The physical design of the space introduces a ‘folded red plane’ that connects and serves as a common thread for the three main spaces of the AIA NE Office (the backdrop and separation for the Executive Assistant’s workspace, the informal conference area, and the Executive Director’s office).  It creates a highly visible signature feature with its ‘AIA red’ color and supergraphic logo that reinforces AIA NE’s brand identity.

The contemporary renovation of the LHDC Office space focuses on simple design elements and clean lines with a splash of lime green color to assimilate, yet distinguish itself, from its new roommate.  In the conference room and work areas,  custom-perforated metal panel wall murals, recreated from original building images, visually emphasize the building’s history and instantly brands LHDC, something it was previously lacking. 

An amalgamation of a historic, yet contemporary space, was achieved through the use of raw and industrial materials, such as hot rolled steel and reclaimed woods with the existing structural clay tiles and concrete columns. The design called for an exposed ceiling meaning the existing infrastructure—with the mechanical units located in the wrong spaces—had to be remodeled by rearranging some of the mechanical system. With some creative engineering work, new units were purchased and installed, and duct sock was used throughout the entire space. Structurally, the ‘folded red plane’ required structural steel members to support it and to showcase the exposed C-channels.

For FF&E, the design team contacted companies and vendors to see if they would be interested in showcasing their products that fit with the design intent of the new space. Most of the companies were delighted and graciously offered their products at substantial discounts or at no cost. The design team worked with SGH, Inc. and Dri-Design to create the perforated metal panel murals.  Shaw Contact Group donated carpeting in the shared conference room and LHDC space; Knoll donated all the workstations, and highly discounted its furniture, which included all the task and conference seating, as well as two Barcelona chairs and two Bertoia Diamond chairs that all perfectly fit the space.

Ross Miller, Associate AIA and Michael P. Hamilton, AIA, personally designed a custom coffee table for the AIA NE space using an approximately 600-lb. locally-cut walnut log, and a custom steel I-beam side table, laser-engraved with the AIA NE logo and year. The custom plexiglas AIA NE logo on the ’folded red plane’ was fabricated and installed by Renze Display and many other items were all discounted or donated by local AIA NE Affiliate members. Tile flooring in the workroom/kitchen was donated by RBC Tile and paint from Designtex was donated for the writable wall in the shared conference room.  Also, Louis Poulsen generously donated a high-end light fixture that greets visitors at the front entry of the AIA NE space. A donor wall is currently being fabricated to display the companies that generously donated their time, products and designs.

The AIA Nebraska / Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation Offices will certainly be viewed up close and often by the design team's colleagues. To that end, the team worked diligently to ensure the project realization reflects the architectural profession excellently, from the first impression down to the last detail.

About AIA Nebraska
AIA Nebraska is the state society of the American Institute of Architects, the largest and most influential professional association for architects, interns and those directly involved in the practice of architecture. AIA NE strives to meet the needs and interests of Nebraska architects and the public they serve by developing public awareness of the value of architecture and the importance of good design. Our local chapters, AIA Lincoln, AIA Omaha and AIA Western work with AIA NE to provide service and support to help members be effective in practicing one of the most challenging professions in the world. AIA Nebraska currently has approximately 550 members. The new office address is 335 North 8th Street, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68508.

About HDR
HDR’s architects weave the threads of design excellence into the fabric of the firm’s culture, combining the passion for scale, finish and balance with function, fit and harmony.”
HDR’s talented team of architects is world-renown for their award-winning designs of a full range of urban environments, campuses and buildings for clients in the healthcare, civic, and science + technology fields. Be it industrial, commercial or institutional architecture, HDR continually sets the standards for design excellence, transforming a client’s vision into dynamic reality. Drawing on the expertise of its multi-disciplinary offerings, HDR consistently delivers distinctive, high-performance buildings. Its role as an industry leader is recognized by its numerous inclusions on the industry’s most respected giants lists, and as a principal player in esteemed professional organizations such as the AIA Large Firm Roundtable. For more information, visit

About LHDC
The Lincoln Haymarket Development Corporation is committed to the economic revitalization of Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District through a continuing comprehensive process that protects, enhances and promotes the District’s architectural and cultural heritage. Haymarket businesses and property owners, along with community leaders formed LHDC in 1985 as a non-profit organization. LHDC was primarily formed in order to apply for participation in the National Main Street Program which is a revitalization program administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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AIA Nebraska
335 North 8th Street | Suite A
Lincoln, NE 68508

Office Hours
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P 402/858-1929
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