Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Riggins, A. 2021. A Vernacular for Lincoln, Nebraska. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Austin Riggins 2021.


The contemporary vernacular architecture in the United States is a product of industrialization and globalization. One homogenous, mass produced vernacular has dominated nationwide and overshadowed the unique, contextual, and regional designs of the past. While the contemporary, industrialized vernacular has led to increases in the quality of life for many in the developed world, it has also left in its wake a homogenous and placeless environment devoid of environmental sensitivity or cultural references. There is a need for a set of new vernaculars that embrace modern building technologies while simultaneously responding more directly to local climatic needs and facilitating a renewed sense of regional identity and culture. These new vernaculars will be also crucial in the coming decades as a means of providing more sustainable designs that account for their environmental context without the need for energy intensive mechanical climate control systems. This paper seeks to identify the elements one of the aforementioned new vernaculars as it pertains to the context of Lincoln, Nebraska. By studying the history of design in the region and the climate conditions present in Lincoln, I was able to identify four design elements that respond well to the unique challenges presented by the Lincoln, Nebraska context and would contribute to a more contextual vernacular: summer shading, winter wind obstruction, natural ventilation, and solar heat intake.