Innovation Campus

Sep 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, September 17, 2009

More than 70 attend two forums

Innovation campus plans
The chance to learn about updated plans for Nebraska Innovation Campus drew more than 70 people to a pair of open house sessions on Sept. 10 and 11.

The sessions focused on the master plan and business strategy plan outlined by consultants from SmithGroup/JJR and Noddle Cos., during the Sept. 4 NU Board of Regents meeting.

“The original layout presented in November 2007 was just an initial vision of what we thought Innovation Campus could be,” said Bill Nunez, director of Institutional Research and Planning. “What we have now is a concept based on analysis and discovery at the site. Innovation Campus is coming into focus, but we’re still at the very beginning of a long-term initiative.”

Individuals who attended the open houses were able to talk one-on-one with representatives of UNL, SmithGroup/JJR and Noddle Cos. Mary Jukuri of SmithGroup/JJR also outlined the Innovation Campus plans in a 20-minute presentation.

Mary Jukuri
Mary Jukuri of JJR discusses the Nebraska Innovation Campus plan with students from Gordon Scholz’ community and regional planning course during the Sept. 11 open house in the Nebraska Union.

Julie Hoaglin, a retired food service employee who worked for 30 years in the Abel Dining Hall, attended the Sept. 11 session at the Nebraska Union because she was “anxious to see what is being proposed.”

“I love the fairgrounds and I really hate to see it leave Lincoln,” said Hoaglin. “But, you have to keep up with the times.

“The potential of Nebraska Innovation Campus is exciting. And, what we can see thus far looks really good.”

The sessions drew a mix of faculty, staff, students and the general public.

Wes Daberkow, who has three children who graduated from UNL, also attended the Sept. 11 session. He came as a taxpayer interested in progress at the Innovation Campus site.

Daberkow also volunteered at a Nebraska State Fair booth, providing information about the future of the fair and Innovation Campus.

Bob Calcatera & Wes Daberkow
Bob Calcatera, a member of the Noddle team, and Wes Daberkow, a concerned citizen, discuss plans for Nebraska Innovation Campus.

“There truly is a mixed response from Nebraskans about moving the State Fair to Grand Island and building Innovation Campus,” said Daberkow. “But, I found people are willing to listen. And when presented with the information, people against this change did soften a bit.

“That is why it is so important for the university to hold these open houses. Presenting the information and allowing for public input will only help in the long run.”

Nunez said the campus planners are nearing the midpoint in their plan development process. SmithGroup/JJR and Noddle Cos. will present final plans to the Regents on Dec. 1. UNL takes possession of the State Fair Park on Jan. 1.

“Right now we are thinking about the array of things – maintenance, security, parking and transit, etc. – that UNL needs to be ready for when we acquire the property,” Nunez said. “That’s one spoke on our wheel. We’re also looking at other issues like planning, grading, demolition, construction and perhaps even legislation if needed.

“There’s plenty of work to be done on the Innovation Campus project. It’s all very exciting.”

See the updated vision for Nebraska Innovation Campus at

Innovation Campus recommendations

Consultants from Smith Group/JJR and Noddle Cos., offered the following recommendations for Nebraska Innovation Campus to the NU Board of Regents.

• The vision for the campus creates a sense of place with a “front door” image. The campus will link City and East campuses and provide an interdisciplinary and collaborative setting, using sustainable practices. Long-term development of the campus will evolve as partnerships develop. Full build-out of the plan could take 20-25 years.

• Nebraska Innovation Campus should incorporate facilities that allow people to live, work, learn and play on the campus.

• Initial development of the campus could be 100 acres, with additional land for parking, recreation and future expansion.

• Sustainable practices will be incorporated into the estimated 1.8 million square feet of building space.

• A renovated 4-H Building, or an “Innovation Commons,” could become a central feature in the core of the campus. The proposed Innovation Commons should incorporate space for shared amenities, conference and seminar spaces, possibly a cafe for gathering and collaboration.

• In addition to university research and private/public partner space and the commons, the initial campus plan incorporates recreation and entertainment space, retail and services/hospitality areas, and residential living.

• Key research areas for UNL on which research partnerships could be based have been “asset mapped” as part of the business planning process. Food, fuel and water are some interdisciplinary and emerging themes, but the university and private industry collaborators could focus on any of the university’s research areas.

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