It’s 3 a.m. Campus is still dark, the streets are empty and most would assume University of Nebraska-Lincoln students are sleeping back in their residence halls. But architecture students know better.
Aiden Schneider, a sophomore architecture major, understands all too well that Architecture Hall is usually alive, even in the dead of night.
“I would say that there probably is at least one person here, excluding janitors,” he said. “Students (are here) all hours of the night and all hours of the day.”
Yaan Chen, a sophomore, said he usually spends anywhere from 10 to 15 hours in Architecture Hall. But the long hours haven’t turned him away from the major.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s been torturing us, but we still love it.”
On 11 p.m. Wednesday, only two weeks into the semester, the building was full of second-year students working on a project. The assignment asked them to create a structure for a dog park at Holmes Lake.
For the assignment, students visited the dog park and chose the location to build the structure. Back on campus, they were tasked with making a digital model of their design and creating smaller 3-D models for the assignment.
Sophomore Abigail Nelson said the group project is one of the most difficult assignments she’s had so far.
“It’s hard,” she said. “But I know with my group and with the feedback they get, it’ll be successful.”
The most time-consuming part of these projects is making the physical models, Nelson said.
“Cutting anything by hand with several layers like this will take hours,” she said, referencing her 3-D model.
Junior Hannah Christy said her last model took her 60 hours to complete.
These models are one of the reasons so many students spend several hours in the building. It’s easier to stay at Architecture Hall, where they have access to tools and supplies than to take a model home and risk damaging it.
And those hours in the building add up quickly. Nelson said her record amount of time in the building is about 48 hours.
“I’m here more than I’m at home,” she said. “It’s still fun, though. Somehow, I find it fun.”
Christy said she’s spent four or five nights in a row staying awake to work on projects.
“I just take little sporadic naps,” she said. “Then, I just slept for like three days straight afterwards. I don’t think people really realize how much goes into being an architecture major. My roommates have no clue. They know I’m here all day, but I’m literally working the whole time.”
The architecture students get creative to make it through the extended stays in the building.
Sophomore Joe Mueller said different students have different methods of staying awake.
“Some people take caffeine pills, some people take coffee,” he said.
Christy said in her last project, she and her partners took sleeping shifts between their hours of working. And while she hasn’t done this herself, she knows someone who brings in an egg crate to take naps under the desks.
While all the hours spent in the building may seem extreme, it has resulted in a support system of students ready to help each other do what it takes to make it through a project.
“The college is so tight-knit,” Schneider said. “I’ve probably never been so tight with a group of people so fast. Everyone is just so similar. It doesn’t really matter where you came from or what you like or do, it’s just pretty much a family right when you get in.”
Sophomore Shayla Dick agreed.
“One of my favorite parts is the small community that you build,” she said. “We all spend crazy hours here, so you get to know people on a more personal level.”
And of course, that support system of students finds ways to help each other de-stress.
“One time,” Christy said, “we got done with one of our projects and a couple people in my studio and I went to the top floor of Architecture Hall and just threw our projects off the roof, just because we were so done with it.”
Mueller said they’ve also battled stress by throwing dance parties and blaring music so loud others can hear it from a nearby parking lot.
“Our year’s pretty bad at blaring music,” he said of his fellow sophomores. “We’ve got in trouble, but music’s music.”
Along with the fellow students, the college professors are another great support system for architecture majors, Christy said.
She said while she was intimidated by how hard they pushed her in the beginning, she appreciates it now.
“They do prepare you so well for the upcoming years and just the overall career that you’re going into,” Nelson said.
While the workload is sometimes intense, she said she believes it will all be worth it by the end.
“It’s definitely more difficult than I expected, but like I said, it’s going to pay off at the end, and they’re just training us for what real-world architects actually do,” Nelson said. “If you have a successful project and you present it, every minute is worth it...it’ll go in a portfolio, and it’ll just help in the long-run to get a good job and (with) the rest of my life.”