A groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of construction for the privately funded, $115 million Kiewit Hall at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was held June 28. The event was held adjacent to the new building site at 17th and Vine streets at the College of Engineering in Othmer Hall.
Following a short program, lead contributors to the project, together with university and city officials and corporate partners, participated in a traditional dirt-turning in front of the construction site. The event can be viewed on the college's Construction Central website.
"This is a big day for us, the University of Nebraska, for the State of Nebraska (and) for the field of engineering as we turn ground on the largest academic facilities project in the 152-year history of the university," said University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green.
"We are very excited about it. We know our students are going to build the future, and they're going to be more enabled to do that through this new facility."
Kiewit Corp. of Omaha announced its major support for the expansion initiative in 2019 and has provided $25 million to the project. Other lead contributors recognized during the groundbreaking ceremony were the Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation, Abel Foundation, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Robert B. Daugherty Foundation and Acklie Charitable Foundation.
"As someone who has spent my career at this university, I can't tell you how gratifying it is to see that kind of investment in the College of Engineering," said Dean Lance C. Pérez.
"What matters is what's going to happen in this building. For the first time in over a generation, we will have a facility that is all about teaching engineering. It's going to be a game-changer for the State of Nebraska and the next generations of students."
Slated to open in 2023, Kiewit Hall will serve as the academic hub for undergraduate engineering education and house Lincoln-based construction management programs; included will be classrooms, instructional labs, Engineering Student Services, maker spaces for the college's student organizations, and a large outdoor plaza for the university community.
"In our company's earliest days, Peter Kiewit came to the University of Nebraska to find the engineers that made the company what it is today, and the university has remained incredibly important to us," said Rick Lanoha, president and chief executive officer of Kiewit Corporation. "When this opportunity came along to build this world-class facility, it was a unanimous vote at our board of directors meeting."
The facility is being constructed on the east side of UNL's existing engineering complex, east of Othmer Hall and across 17th Street, which is now closed to traffic. Once completed, Kiewit Hall will connect to Othmer Hall via a skyway, providing an expanded complex that also includes Scott Engineering Center, the Link, and Nebraska Hall.
Brian Hastings, president and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said that when you look at what is going to happen within Kiewit Hall, the privately funded facility will have a transformative effect on many lives.
"It will help educate generations of engineers who will lead teams, who will use their engineering principles to solve practical and important issues and challenges, engineer other facilities like this and engineer infrastructures that will really help change lives and save lives in our communities," Hastings said. "Every project needs champions, and without our principal benefactors this project wouldn't be a reality, but without the 734 individuals and organizations who have given so far, we wouldn't be here today."
The new Kiewit Hall is part of an overall $170 million expansion and facilities transformation for the College of Engineering. Scott Engineering Center is being renovated along with the new, under-construction Link building that will feature enhanced spaces for research labs, graduate students, and several academic departments.
"Having an establishment such as Kiewit Hall at our disposal is integral to student success," said Noha Algahimi, a senior in chemical engineering. "It means new spaces to develop our projects and additional study spots to build the social connections we so heavily rely on to get us through a rigorous four years. It means state-of-the-art classrooms nurturing the comfort of both students and faculty, thereby allowing for the effective delivery and reception of information.
"As the College of Engineering continues to provide visionaries and valuable members to the scientific world, Kiewit Hall will become a fixture in each individual's success story."
UNL is home to the sole College of Engineering in the state of Nebraska, supplying engineering education and leadership in technology-based economic development for the state, the nation and the world. The College of Engineering offers the state's only nationally accredited undergraduate degree programs, as well as 13 master's programs and 11 doctoral programs. Nebraska Engineering programs are offered on City Campus and East Campus in Lincoln and Scott Campus in Omaha.
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