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Behlen Laboratory of Physics

Vital Statistics






Olson Construction Co.



Also Known As:

Brace Laboratory

In 1962 Steele Sandham and Weinstein (formerly Steele Sandham and Steele) were hired to design a new research facility for the physics department. This facility was planned as an addition to Brace Laboratory, which was deemed inadequate for modern scientific research.

Behlen Laboratory is designed in a style known as Brutalism, a form of late modernism that was introduced following World War II by Le Courbusier and others. Brutalist architecture was frequently used for college and university buildings during the national academic building boom of the 1960s, although it is somewhat unusual in the Midwest. It is characterized by its use of unadorned poured concrete and has been nicknamed by critics as “a celebration of concrete”. Behlen Laboratory is the only Brutalist building on the UNL campuses. It is constructed of poured and precast concrete, with a sandblasted aggregate finish.

Behlen Laboratory of Physics was dedicated in December 1965. It was partially funded by Walter Behlen, founder of Behlen Manufacturing Company of Columbus, Neb., and by the National Science Foundation. The three story structure contained office space, a library, and research laboratories for nuclear and solid-state physics, x-ray diffraction research, and theoretical physics. A sub-basement contained a concrete lined accelerator room designed for work in nuclear reactions and neutron physics. An instrument laboratory was located in the basement.

Initial plans for the building included a one story lecture hall to be located on the south side of Brace Hall. This wing was never constructed.

Behlen Laboratory continues to serve as office and research space for the Physics Department.

Source Information:
Dedication program; University Press Release, November 1965.