The site is a square in the heart of the city of Lincoln, the point of intersection of two great avenues; while the surrounding country is generally level. Therefore, from the very beginning the authors of the design herewith submitted have felt impelled to produce something quite unlike the usual—and, to them, rather trite—thing of the sort, with its veneered order and invariable Roman dome.
As their studies have progressed this impression has but deepened, finally taking form in a vast, though rather low structure, from whose midst rises a great central tower, which, with its gleaming dome of golden tiles, would stand a landmark for many miles around.
Though everywhere monumental, no element of the practical or convenient has been sacrificed to this end. Even the tower is no mere useless ornament, for its shaft contains the glass-floored, many storied Library bookstack.
It has seemed to the authors that the traditions of ancient Greece and Rome and of Eighteenth Century France are in no wise applicable in designing a building destined to be the seat of Government of a great western commonwealth. So, while the architectural style employed may, roughly, be called “Classic”, it makes no pretense of belonging to any period of the past. Its authors have striven to present something worthy of the high uses to which the building is to be devoted, an index to that which is within, a State Capitol of the Here and Now, and naught else.
Aside from the Rotunda, Memorial Hall, and all specified requirements, and quite exclusive of all corridors, toilets, and staircases, the design provides eighty-five thousand square feet of directly-lighted floor space. Of this, about ten thousand feet are given over to restaurants, kitchen, engine room, and the like, leaving seventy-five thousand feet of unassigned space, which might readily be greatly increased were the restaurants and kitchen placed in the upper,—and uncounted,—portion of the tower, a suggestion less radical and more feasible than appears at first sight.
In addition to the space required for the present library, the tower bookstack provides forty-four thousand linear feet;—sufficient, that is, to take care of the present rate of increase for one hundred and ten years to come,—meanwhile giving space for other unspecified purposes.
Throughout the building’s interior arrangements, the authors have striven to achieve the greatest degree of directness, compactness, and economy consistent with convenience and dignity. If actually built, they are convinced it would prove no labyrinth to the unfamiliar visitor, and that this—none-too-common-though surely desirable—end has been attained not only without sacrificing, but actually increasing its monumental quality.
Because of climatic conditions, the plan has been grouped around four large courts, which, cool in summer, would yet be protected from the cold winds of winter. Also, for the same reason, the outer windows have been kept small, with those larger that open on the courts.
It is incontrovertible that a single building housing all departments is more economical and more compact than a number of detached units having the same aggregate floor area; therefore this design is essentially that of a finished entity, as such scarcely susceptible of extension in the form of wings certain to encroach seriously upon the pleasant tree shaded space, which the authors regard as quite vitally part and parcel of the whole. If in coming years additions prove desirable, such should take form as quite separate, though harmonious, structures, set about the square and lining the main avenue of approach, which in the block plan is shown widened and parked, and where, facing the Capitol’s entrance, they have set French’s noble figure of the “Great Emancipator”. They have ventured, too, to carry Fifteenth Street directly beneath the building thus providing protected and thoroughly convenient carriage entrances.
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The architect who designed the Nebraska State Capitol was Bertram Goodhue. The thematic program of the Capitol was developed by Dr. Hartley Burr Alexander. Sculptor for the Capitol was Lee Lawrie, and Hildreth Meiere designed all the floor and ceiling mosaics. The building was constructed over a ten year period in four building phases. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932. Total cost of the building was just under $10 million.
Capitol quick facts
- Construction started in 1922, completed in 1932.
- The architect was Bertram G. Goodhue.
- There are 15 floors above ground.
- The building is 400 feet tall.
- It is the third Nebraska State Capitol.
- It cost $9.8 million in 1932 dollars.
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