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Interior Design Showcase: Dinsdale Learning Commons

Location: East Campus, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

  • Dinsdale Learning Commons living room

    The living room area on the first floor of the Dinsdale Learning Commons is filled with comfortable conversational areas.

  • Dinsdale Learning Commons ceiling

    The feel of the first floor is very organic, calm and natural—including elliptical lights, curved seating areas and oval tables.

  • Dinsdale Learning Commons ceiling

    Natural light floods the first and second floors, bringing the outside in and making the Dinsdale Learning Commons a natural extension of the outside environment.

  • Dinsdale Learning Commons stairs

    The Learning Stair area in the building’s center is equipped with integrated technology and features walnut paneling, gray seat pads, and slate tiles.

  • Dinsdale Learning Commons second floor

    Glass panels create an open feeling, connecting the lower level, first floor and second floor with light and visual sightlines.

  • Swoop chairs

    Herman Miller Swoop chairs are designed with fluid lines, with the chair’s armrests gently “swooping” into the seat to accommodate a variety of postures and positions: legs crossed, curled up, or settled in.

  • Fireplace lounge

    The Fireplace Lounge area on the first floor provides a gathering area for students; it utilizes stone, marble, and upholstered chairs with a leaf-like motif that create a natural tone and feel.


The Dinsdale Family Learning Commons is a technology-rich collaborative environment and hub for innovation, research and learning. The building offers students a choice between active and quiet places in which to study, with a selection of pods, individual study spaces and six group study spaces. In the center of the building, a feature called the Learning Stair is equipped with integrated technology and a sound system for pop-up programming, tours, studying and collaboration.

The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program occupies two-thirds of the second floor, with five classrooms, a makerspace and other facilities. The lower level includes the East Campus Exam Commons, with 36 computer stations and three private rooms for student testing.


The living room area on the first floor is filled with comfortable conversational areas and looks out on Legacy Plaza, an East Campus green space. Natural light flows through windows that run from roofline to ground level, bringing the outside in. The design goal was to create a sense of calm—to encourage students to sit down, relax, enjoy the view, and think.

The carpet in this area is dark gray, with light gray swirls and aqua accents. It has a distinct topographical feel, as if you are flying over the Midwest and see little lakes and rivers. The elliptical lights resemble crop circles—another agricultural reference—and the tables are pond-shaped. Everything has a very organic feel. The chairs in this area are clad in walnut, so when students and faculty walk by outside and look in, it feels like a natural extension of the outside environment.

"This transformation and the activity within the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons will be a catalyst for exciting research and learning."

Claire Stewart, Dean of Libraries, UNL


The East Overlook looks out onto the Arboretum. There is so much nature on hand that the designer kept the interior neutral, so as not to distract from all the green space outside. It is a quiet, individual space to study, versus the more communal nature of the Living Room area. The space accounts for how people congregate and learn, utilizing smaller grouping of furniture that provide intimacy and allow solitude. There are height-adjustable tables that can be easily raised or lowered for someone using a wheelchair. But no matter who is sitting there, they are looking out, not in.


The lower level, where the library’s book stacks will reside, is more study-intensive, which the design team took into consideration. Since there are no windows in the space, the area uses brighter colors, such as pops of red. It features study pods for individual work, which look like little capsules with a light, a desk and a foot rest. There are also larger, organically-shaped tables to accommodate groups of students or study groups. And there are booths available on this level—as well as on first floor—for people who want to sit down and have a cup of coffee or a snack, accommodating for non-study use of the space.


Total group study spaces, all with flat panel screens and whiteboards.


The $22M renovation was funded entirely by private donors.


The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program occupies two-thirds of the second floor.


January 27, 2021 | Nebraska Today
"Dinsdale Family Learning Commons opens January 27"


Find out more about the Dinsdale Learning Commons here.


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