Category: Municipal
Location: Omaha, NE
Size: 111,056 sq. ft.
Masonry Used: 85,500 gray block, 135,500 bricks, 5,500 Rockfaced CMU, and 31,800-light/8,500-dark Burnished CMU.
Submitted by: BCDM Architects

Project Description

The Saddlebrook Joint-Use Facility is a one-of-a-kind project in the state of Nebraska and throughout the Midwest U.S. region. Its program combines a PK- Grade 4 Elementary School, a City of Omaha Public Library, and a City of Omaha Community Center all in one footprint with entry through a singular "front door" Commons space. The design team established a sustainability theme for the site and building design from the project's outset, strongly connecting Saddlebrook to its regional park setting and the Standing Bear Lake watershed area. A variety of sustainable design materials and features were incorporated into the project, including heavy use of regionally produced materials. From the site monument signs, entry plaza light piers, and varied building skin pattern treatment, to storm shelter walls and interior Commons rotunda ambulatory, the creative use of a variety of masonry materials was key to creating Saddlebrook's strong sense of welcome, permanence, and community.

Light piers of light-colored burnished CMU and precast concrete caps give strong rhythm to the main entry plaza sequences. The main fields of this 111,000 SQ. FT. facility are covered in a locally produced closure-sized brick veneer, which was selected for its pottery-like natural clay color and sculpted texture. Regionally produced, integrally-colored rock face CMU accents were used as an economical composition tool to address windows, doors, creating a sense of variety and transformation around the building's perimeter. Various sizes of light-colored, burnished CMU were laid in an ashlar pattern and highlighted with earthen-toned rock face cmu bands are to draw students and patrons to the main Commons rotunda entry point, through which each entity is accessed.

The entry's ashlar-patterned masonry scheme is carried into the building and becomes the key material featured within the vibrant Commons space. Its light coloration and custom-colored mortar helps the space to feel uplifting and timeless. Functionally, the Commons is used for a variety of purposes which are continually changing: a lobby, a gallery, a meeting space, and story-time area. The durability, easy maintenance, and enduring appeal of the burnished cmu simplified material selection for the space. Variations of the exterior and Commons masonry material concepts were also used to transition into feature spaces in the occupied entity's spaces, such as in the Community Center's game room, the school's Kindergarten area and classroom entry nodes.

Saddlebrook is a great example of the variety and creativity that masonry materials can provide the designer in a cost effective way. It demonstrates how masonry can timelessly harmonize with other materials in infinite ways to create rich and varied spaces that are useful, meaningful and memorable to the community.

Project Participants

Owner: Omaha Public Schools

  • Architect/Desinger: Douglas M. Peters & Kevin Schluckebier, BCDM Architects
  • Structural Engineer: Brian Klare, BCDM Architects
  • General Contractor: Chris Harnly, Hawkins Construction
  • Masonry Contractor: Matthew Anderson, Chester Anderson and Sons
  • Masonry Supplier: Lisa Lackovic, Watkins (dealer of Anchor Block)
  • Masonry Supplier: Doyle Lester, Yankee Hill Brick Company
  • Masonry Supplier: Al Monastero, Artisan Stone
  • Gray Block Supplier:Larson Cement
  • Landscape Architect: Kevin Strehle, BCDM Architects