By Eric Althoff
KEARNEY, Neb.—The University of Nebraska’s Kearney campus will soon be adding a Greek Village to its student residential portfolio, and it will also provide more housing for UNK’s Greek community. When finished, this will increase residential living space from nine of UNK’s fraternities and sororities to all 12.
As designed jointly by KWK Architects of St. Louis and BWBR of Omaha, the Greek Village at UNK will entail building out an entirely new residential hall structure as well as renovating the existing Martin Hall. This requires tearing down University Residence South and University Residence North, which were constructed in 1991 and 1992, and replacing them with a 43,000-square-foot, three-story structure directly adjacent to Martin Hall.
The new residence hall’s first floor will offer chapter lounges for each sorority, and the third floor will entail an open floor plan offering 122 beds. Meanwhile, the 42,500-square-foot Martin Hall, which has been vacant since 2014, will be refurbished according to a similar layout as the adjacent new structure. It too will offer an open-floor plan on its second and third floors as well as chapter lounges on the first floor. The renovated Martin Hall will also entail a chapter community room in the basement and a community “great room” on the main floor to encourage socializing among the various Greek organizations.
Martin Hall will entail a grand total of 120 beds, and the design by KWK and BWBR aims to maintain as much of the building’s historical facade as feasible. Accordingly, the architects are working in conjunction with general contractor Samet Construction of Raleigh to realize the two-structure enterprise.
In a statement emailed to School Construction News, Javier Esteban, principal at KWK, said that designing the new residence hall required being able to “separate different Greek houses under one roof.” Esteban said that this was necessary to fashion “independence [while] still adhering to all life safety standards related to egress.”
Regarding Martin Hall, he added that the two main challenges of design work entailed working with the hall’s low floor-to-floor heights and “maintaining the schedule for the new construction since the project was done in two phases.”
“UNK has a reputation for quality, student-centered experiences, and our Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) community is one of the best examples of this dynamic educational environment,” Kelsey Hassenstab, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, said in a recent release. “This project will facilitate more community building among the FSL organizations by providing more opportunities for all the chapters to be involved.
“It’s more inclusive and progressive housing, which will allow us to grow closer as a community and work together to achieve our educational and community service goals.”
Martin Hall is due to be finished in January, with the new residence hall due to be completed in August.
“Whether renovation or new construction, the independence of each Greek organization was paramount,” Esteban said of his work at UNK, adding that flexibility is a key ingredient to both buildings’ eventual success. “The design team created individual entries and identities while ensuring the buildings were coherent with the rest of the architecture of the campus.”