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UNK students working to build model bedroom for new veterans home

Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2015 11:52 am

By UNK Communications

KEARNEY — A group of construction management and interior design students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney are getting a jump on the construction of the Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home, which is still a year away from breaking ground.

UNK students are partnering with lead designer Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects of Kearney to build a full-scale mock-up of bedroom suites that will house residents at the $121 million veterans home. The project will be used to showcase the facility publicly and to lock in design plans.

“This is big, and it makes perfect sense for us to be involved,” said Nate Barry, UNK industrial technology assistant professor. “It is quite a project to introduce students to the building process.”

Using blueprints from Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects, UNK students will build and furnish the room, which will be completely finished with bathroom fixtures, flooring, windows, doors and other features.

Students recently began pouring concrete and constructing walls for the 16-foot by 22-foot room, and it is planned for completion and will be displayed in Grand Island beginning in July. Barry said the model eventually will be relocated and displayed at the new construction site in northeast Kearney and remain for the duration of the project’s construction.

When completed, the mock-up will be inspected and analyzed by nurses, veterans, community members, contractors, owners and others involved.

“It will provide a great opportunity for veterans to see and experience the rooms before they are constructed,” Wilkins Hinrichs Stober’s Kali Eklund, the project manager, said.

More than 40 UNK students from many classes are involved, and Barry said they’ve taken ownership of the project.

Barry said the veterans home project is much larger in scope than anything construction management and interior design students have ever taken on at UNK. “We’ve never had an opportunity like this. It is a chance to showcase our students and give back to the community at the same time.”

Construction of the 225-bed Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home is planned to begin in early 2016.

Barry’s goal is to show interior design and construction management students how they can influence and add value to the pre-construction side of a project.

“This is ideal for showing them how a mock-up is used when it comes to selecting materials, value engineering and saving money,” Barry said. “Hopefully, this kick starts their interest so they go into their junior and senior years and know what they can do with their degrees.”

Eklund said she already is impressed with the attention to detail UNK students are showing.

“It’s a very professional, talented group of students who bring a lot to the table,” Eklund said. “They are really on top of things. The students have taken the information we gave them and really gone with it. They are taking this very seriously and making a large impact on the project.”

Barry said Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects deserves credit for contacting the university and getting UNK students involved.