Architecture Program


Date of this Version

May 2006


M. Arch. Thesis, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, May 2006.


Over the past eight to ten years Omaha has taken great strides in redeveloping the downtown business district. Many businesses have reinvested in the downtown adding new buildings and parks to the area. The most noticeable are the two new high-rise buildings or First National Bank and Union Pacific Railroad. One key ingredient missing in the revitalization of downtown is the source of people throughout the entire day. Omaha has made some attempts to bring people back downtown by creating new apartments and condominiums. When you take a closer look, you will see the lack of mixed use buildings.

With the lack of mixed use buildings in the area this building it provides the opportunity to redevelop a city block based on mixed use. By creating a mixed use project this will provide ample growth opportunities in more ways than a single use building will. The project is looking at redeveloping the block formerly occupied by the Union Pacific Railroad building located at 14th and Dodge Streets. The proposed Terminal project will explore, analyze and provide a solution to this urban design problem of creating a dense mixed usage 30 plus story high-rise building consisting of residential, commercial and retail spaces.

In choosing this terminal project, the four main goals I want to achieve within this project are: One, create a livelier downtown streetscape for Omaha through mix uses including commercial, retail and residential spaces. Creatively establish a greater sense of density to heighten the sense of urban presents. Two, explore the potential of a high-rise building to contribute to the urban density of a city. Enhance the connectivity between the street and interior spaces. Explore the possibilities of integrating uses of the building as a means of extending the life of the city into the vertical building. Three, investigate the possibility of mixing income along with uses. Four, explore the challenge of knitting new construction into existing fabric.

The specific areas of exploration will include areas importance to developing a livelier downtown. I am especially interested the how the building meets the street in creating a lively streetscape. The building should show a dynamic dichotomy between the commercial, retail and residential programs which have distinct characteristics of each. Design the facades horizontally and vertically without created a repeated stacked affect that is mundane. There should be areas of highly public, semi-public, and private spaces. There should be some type of green space relative to the site for recreational purposes whether it’s for residences pleasure or recreational space for others.

The proposed high-rise building should provide creative solutions for several different program functions. The three main programs functions are retail on the ground level, commercial and residential in the main body of the tower. Some parking for the residences will be accommodated for. The residential will accommodate all levels of income to create strong neighborhood diversity within the building. New amenities should be viewed in a way to bring people in. Amenities may include some form of entertainment, grocery center, recreational, spa center and art gallery. More information will be discovered when a land use map is created to understand the programs of the adjacent areas. A sky lounge at the top of the building will provide an opportunity for people to view the panoramic views of the city from above. The sky lounge will allow people to interact with skyline as well as the building to interact. A strong skyline will enhance and signify Omaha’s downtown.

The notion of renovating parts of the Union Pacific building should be entertained during the research and design period in the fall of 2005. Currently this block is made up of several buildings and additions that create an eclectic building mass which does not lend its self too many adaptive reuse projects. I feel several facades could be reused located on 15th and Dodge streets as they present a strong urban façade. The remaining portions of the site should be left for complete redevelopment. At first look the l-shaped portion of the building that I suggest to be salvaged would easily accommodate residential space.

The building form should contain a base, a body and a crown. These elements are typical of high-rise design projects or any multi story building. A strong delineation between the three building forms will give the building a strong character and identity which a building of this size must have to be designed successfully.

The residence program function of the building should accommodate to all levels of family income. When creating density among people, diversity will occur. How you treat diversity among the groups without showing favoritism a challenge. The residents may be clustered in one area or disbursed around the building to create mini neighborhoods within the block. This provides a way to explore separate identities or themes for the building or different flavors of living environments to choose from.

As Omaha’s skyline appears on be on the verge of growth, the skyline should interact or create a dialogue between other buildings. The real question is what type of attention does it seek? A building of this size will not go unnoticed. Design of a landmark building verses an iconic building will be greatly considered. Does it want to redefine the entry view of Omaha like that of The Tower at First National Center or have a strong presence like that of The Woodmen? With a building of this size how will the pedestrian scale interact at a comfortable level? I do feel the height of the building should break the plateau line of most the buildings downtown and help redefine the skyline. Breaking the barrier will help establish and signify the downtown.

One element of the project that has not been addressed yet is parking. Parking should accommodate one stall per living unit and portion of the commercial employees of the building. Currently street parking is available on all streets around the area. Some of the design will be influences by the size and location of the parking garage needed for the project. This element should be figured out early on in the project.

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