"Everybody keeps pushing the edges on these buildings," says Al Oberlander, principal and COO at Des Moines, Iowa-based RDG Planning & Design.
"It's 'What can we do that will attract students to our building, and how can it tell a story about what goes on inside?' " The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Outdoor Adventures Center makes its purpose apparent with a 41-foot-tall exterior climbing wall intended to resemble western Nebraska's Chimney Rock National Historic Site. Open for bouldering at any time to a height of 10 feet, the wall is controlled during unsupervised times by removing handholds above the bouldering portion to about 20 feet high. To achieve full accessibility, lead-climbing staffers spend an hour restoring holds and installing three top-ropes or auto-belays on permanent belay bars. The bars are located along the edge of the building's generous eave, allowing the most audacious climbers to stand atop the spire.
This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Athletic Business with the title "DesignDetails"