R. Joe Dennis Learning Center Laboratory Renovation

Bellevue University Teaching Lab

R. Joe Dennis Learning Center Laboratory Renovation

Equipped for the Future of Science

When Bellevue University decided to renovate the labs within the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center, the university president encouraged the three professors at the helm of the science department to dream big. Accommodation for new equipment and technologies; opportunities to integrate research, teaching and extra-curricular activities more seamlessly; and a design that puts “science on display” making science and research more engaging, accessible and fun for students across campus were among their highest priorities.

The full-services HDR team, comprising architects, structural and MEP engineers, and laboratory planners, worked together from the earliest stages of the design to develop a solution that helped Bellevue University realize the their vision. Together, the team created a contemporary, active-learning, collaborative environment that can be easily reconfigured as STEM teaching methodologies continue to evolve. The integrated team fostered an extremely efficient design process which resulted in a solution that incorporates architecture, mechanical systems, and technology to enhance learning and accommodate program changes in the future. 

Key features include:

  • A transparent design transforms both the students’ and faculty’s experience, by infusing daylight throughout, creating views into labs, and promoting interaction.
  • A glass interior wall allows students walking in the hallway to see into the labs and creates a light-filled, open space inside the lab.
  • Open, flexible classroom laboratoriesincluding Chemistry/Biochemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology (A&P), and Science Research and Demonstration (SRD) are connected by a shared prep room that runs across the exterior wall.
  • Mechanical systems, as well as a robust technology infrastructure, are organized along interior walls in vertical planes used as video-display surfaces, and as supply and return for air and utilities.
  • Monitors on the sides of every lab allow for integration of residential and virtual cohorts in the same class sessions.
  • Lighting is integrated into the space to create an implied ceiling plane and provide both general illumination and task lighting for bench work.  
Bellevue University Teaching Lab
Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE
United States

9,800 sf (910 m²)


Distinguished Award (2019)
Interiors Category
American Institute of Architects Central States
Excellence in Design, Merit Award (2018)
Interior Architecture Category
American Institute of Architects, Nebraska Chapter