DLR GroupCapitol Campus Master Plan

DLR GroupCapitol Campus Master Plan

DLR GroupCapitol Campus Master Plan

Scope of Work


Berggren Architects were historic preservation consultants for the Capitol Campus Master Plan authored by DLR.


Lincoln, NE


The Capitol Campus Area may be considered to have been established with the creation of the Capitol Environs Commission in 1987.


This project was completed in 2017.

The master plan is in effect until at least 2037.

The Challenge

Berggren Architects was one of five building and planning consultants brought on to collaborate in completing a 20-year comprehensive Master Plan for Nebraska’s Capitol Campus Area. The State Building Division outlined seven distinct tasks to be completed before writing the report. These tasks encompass the entire range of the planning process: from the analysis of existing conditions to the presentation of new design schemes; from the creation of design guidelines to the implementation of designs within present-day legal, practical, and economic requirements.

In the State’s project description, the terms “historic building and site preservation” and “significant historic sites” made frequent appearances in three out of seven tasks. However, Berggren Architects had some involvement in nearly every step. In this project, historic preservation was not only an issue of serving the public or perpetuating good design. It was often also a cost-saving tool, and sometimes a legal necessity, that required serious consideration during feasibility and implementation phases of planning. Research was presented to the Planning Advisory Committee in text and graphical formats.

A look down Centennial Mall, the main public avenue to the Nebraska State Capitol.

Many businesses, offices, and state agencies and departments border this street.


The Capitol Campus Area contains several government agencies and departments, all with different space and facility requirements.

Interviews identified several needs concerning employee growth, changing methods of work, methods of public entry and approach, security, parking, adjacency to other departments, and closeness to amenities such as food, fitness, and daycare facilities. Though undoubtedly important, space needs are often met with the disregard and demolition of old buildings in favor of new construction.

The Pershing Auditorium, which covered an entire block facing Centennial Mall and sat only two blocks from the Capitol, was a point of contention.

Once a popular venue hosting the likes of The Doors and Elvis Presley, it was now defunct and served only as storage. The need for a larger event venue had been satisfied with the new Pinnacle Bank Arena. While not listed as a historic structure, its mural is undoubtedly iconic. Though now slated for demolition, Berggren Architects was a proponent for its adaptive re-use.

Existing – Pershing Auditorium

Proposed – Pershing Auditorium with three additional floors

The Strategy

Our team worked with WRT Design, an interdisciplinary team of planners, urban designers, architects and landscape architects from Philadelphia, who acted as the lead planning firm. We also worked with DLR Group, the local planning and design firm, providing expertise on historic sites, historic design guidelines, and adaptive re-use of historic buildings.

Three historic districts and 29 historic structures were identified as being significant, these being already listed or eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 13 additional structures were identified as local landmarks, as dictated by the city ordinance.


Berggren Architects was a strong advocate for maintaining historic design standards and the re-use of existing structures.

This includes dictating new construction projects to be masonry-clad and have at least a 100-year lifespan. This is not only to honor historic design guidelines, including those listed in the Capitol Environ Design Standards or recommended by Capitol architect Bertram Goodhue, but to encourage permanent and sustainable buildings rather than disposable structures.

We encouraged the rehabilitation of old structures, such as the Telephone Building and the former Woodman Accident & Life Building, over demolition and new construction. Re-use of familiar structures helps to ensure stability in its surrounding neighborhoods. Redevelopment of other buildings would demonstrate a commitment to public-private partnership. Additionally, any historic rehabilitation projects would provide tax credits and other property tax benefits.

Our team provided design proposals for the adaptive re-use of Pershing Auditorium.

Though the building is listed to be 109,300 square feet, its structural steel frame and massive height allows the flexibility for potential reconfiguration into a four-story building. This would almost double the square footage to 191,300 square feet.

The center space would be kept open, acting as a gallery space for iconic Nebraskan figures and businesses. Facilities may include a theater, food court, and gift shop. Perimeter spaces on the upper floors would provide ample space for classrooms, presentation spaces, and supporting offices and agencies

The Results

The Capitol Campus Master Plan won the 2020 AIA Nebraska Excellence in Design, People’s Choice Award in the Regional & Urban Design Category.

While Pershing Auditorium is now due for demolition, the adaptive re-use proposals of Berggren Architects and other design firms provide an example of due diligence. The many efforts to save this iconic structure may now be archived for future historians.

The Capitol Campus Master Plan has an effective length of 20 years and is expected to guide the development of the Capitol Campus Area until at least 2037.

Opposite the State Capitol to the south, the Nebraska State Historical Society sits seven blocks to the north, bookending Centennial Mall.



Six blocks north of the State Capitol: Centennial Mall and Q St

A small park sits next to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism.


Five blocks north: Centennial Mall and P St

The Nebraska History Museum and the US District Court of Nebraska sit nearby.


Four blocks north: Centennial Mall and O St

Several downtown bars, restaurants, and shops are nearby. The green Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph microwave tower, though highly visible, is no longer in use.


Three blocks north: Centennial Mall and N St

The Pershing Auditorium mural dominates this entire block.


Two blocks north: Centennial Mall and M St

Several state agencies and the Scottish Rite Masonic Center sit nearby.


Nebraska State Capitol from the southeast corner


The Nebraska Hall of Fame, within the corridors of the Capitol second floor, holds twenty-six busts of Nebraskan historical figures.

The most recent addition was Omaha architect Thomas Rogers Kimball, inducted 2017.


The State Capitol seen from the west, through the sight line of Lincoln Mall.

Nearby buildings include several state organizations and the historic, high-rise apartment, Sky Park Manor, built as part of a Capitol Environs beautification project.


The State Capitol seen from a parking garage in the northeast


The State Capitol seen from downtown Lincoln in the northwest

More about the
Iconic Government Centers

A natural niche for our firm has been county courthouses for almost 40 years. We provide the expertise needed to navigate the process of caring for these important historic structures.

Our team has experience in navigating the multitude of entities involved in preserving the historic integrity of the building while also providing for modern day needs and requirements.

Arts & Cultural Centers
Iconic Government Centers
Education Centers
Living Spaces
Spiritual Centers
Government Support Facilities

Our Process

We listen to you

We are preservation architects, let’s get together and talk about your project. Once we know your ideas, we can start your project in the right directions.

We involve you in the planning

Planning projects is what we do. We’ll work with you to develop the best way to implement your ideas. Our written documents are the road map which is essential to ensuring your expectations.

We make it happen

When you’re ready to implement your ideas, we’ll gather together the craftsmen and women necessary and bring your ideas to life. Architecture is in the details. We will follow your project through completion ensuring all the details meet your expectations.

What We Offer


We offer restoration and preservation of your historic structures. Using extraordinary materials and craftsmanship, our historic structures are a lasting tribute to the people for whom they were built.


We offer consulting services to both general clients and professional clients in sharing our knowledge and expertise in the area of historic preservation. Our master planning and preservation planning prepares our clients to be better able to plan for the life of their historic structures and districts.

New Construction

We know the meaning of sustainability because of our in-depth work with structures which have stood the test of time. We offer sustainable and green new construction which is historically sympathetic, including in the form of additions.

Our Team

Principal, Preservation Architect

Jerry L. Berggren, AIA

Production Manager

Garry Martin, Associate AIA


Farheen Sirajuddin

Architectural Historian

Janet Jeffries

Architectural Student Intern

Morgan Davis

Architectural Student Intern

Brandy Nguyen

Architectural Student Intern

Alexi Caines

Principal, Preservation Architect

Jerry L. Berggren, AIA

In 1977, Jerry Berggren founded what would become Berggren Architects, P.C. The firm began as a sole proprietorship in Lincoln, Nebraska and has since then been dedicated to the preservation of Nebraska’s finest architecture. The 1983 Jobs Bill was the milestone which introduced the firm to its most significant building type, the historic county courthouse. A project to improve the thermal efficiency of the windows at the Johnson County Courthouse in Tecumseh also initiated Berggren’s concern for energy conservation and an ongoing commitment to sustainable design.

In 1986, Jerry’s “Courthouse Trail” proposal to the state was approved. The Courthouse Trail experience solidified two career-long relationships with the Nebraska Energy Office and the Nebraska Association of County Officials. He continued to serve Nebraska’s county clients and in 2002 he became the recipient of the Honors Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This achievement was Berggren’s first nationally recognized award.

Today, Jerry Berggren has expanded his firm and employs professionals with abilities in historic preservation, architecture, interior design, sustainability, master planning and more. The future will undoubtedly hold more unexpected opportunities and challenges. He looks forward to each of those and you are invited to contact him directly regarding the architectural challenges you face.

Production Manager

Garry Martin, Associate AIA

Garry has been working in the architectural field continuously since obtaining a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991. He had previously worked with Jerry Berggren as an intern in 1989 and the experience piqued his interest in the field of preservation. Garry leads the production team at Berggren Architects, P.C.


Farheen Sirajuddin

Farheen, a citizen of India, began her career with formal education in that county achieving the status of architect. When her husband was transferred to the US, she seized the opportunity to study at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln graduating in 2019 with her Master of Architecture. She immediately became one of our full time employees continuing to work until her student visa expired in July of 2020. Having to return to India, we thought we had lost a valued employee. Thanks to COVID, we have had to learn to work remotely. From India, Farheen is once again joining us. This time as a contract employee and we are very grateful to have her back

Architectural Historian

Janet Jeffries

Janet has a career history as an educator, writer, and researcher in the field of historical and architectural preservation. She currently works as the College Historian for Doane College in Crete, NE and is the Curator for the Crete Heritage Society. Janet is currently employed as the firm’s Architectural/Preservation Historian.

Architectural Student Intern

Morgan Davis

Morgan Davis joined Berggren Architects in 2018. As an architectural intern, Morgan’s love for historic architecture has influenced her desire to understand the importance of a building’s life span. Her passion for creating environmentally sustainable designs has made her an asset to our team. Morgan is working remotely as she pursues a Masters of Architecture at the University of Michigan. She currently holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Design, Architecture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Architectural Student Intern

Brandy Nguyen

Brandy Nguyen joined Berggren Architects. in April of 2020. As an architectural student, Brandy was recruited in 2020 to become the next Larsen Legacy intern. During this year of his internship, he is taking charge of the firm’s outward appearance. Website development and polishing the proposal we submit are among his responsibilities. He is also becoming a significant help with the production of construction documents.

Architectural Student Intern

Alexi Caines

Alexi joined Berggren Architects in 2021. In her first year as a Larsen Legacy intern, her responsibilities began with coordinating office operations and research. Her current responsibilities include marketing and preparation of construction documents and design.

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