Steel shipping container turned into luxury tailgating party for Husker football fans

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Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013 12:00 am

A request to turn a steel shipping container into a luxury tailgating structure for Husker football fans was a fast and fun project for architects in the DLR Group's Lincoln office.

“It was an absolute blast,” architect Daniel Siedhoff said. “It actually turned out way beyond our wildest imaginations.”

DLR and Rogge General Contractors of Lincoln had six weeks this summer to build a prototype, which was on display at last Saturday's University of Wyoming game (photos showed it outside the Hawks Championship Center, northeast of Memorial Stadium). It is expected to be on display again today and at future home games.

Such a structure, fabricated in and around a container typically used in rail and overseas shipping, could be available to fans starting in 2014. The University of Nebraska Athletic Department is quietly promoting a “premium tailgate community” called Blackshirt Village.

The village could have numerous structures like the prototype, which is outfitted with three high-definition televisions, a wet bar, a leather couch and other amenities. People can register online to be on a waiting list for more information and the opportunity to use one of the structures.

An athletic department official declined to discuss Blackshirt Village. But on a website, the department says, “Beginning in 2014, this premium tailgate community will provide the ultimate in convenience, sophistication and comfort.” Website photographs show the container being lifted into place by a crane.

Other amenities include a rooftop observation deck, grill, granite countertops, heating and air conditioning and lighting. A refillable tank provides running water.

It is unclear what the alcohol policy would be in Blackshirt Village. Alcohol is prohibited on public property, including in campus parking lots and streets, unless a special license has been granted, according to university police.

Siedhoff said DLR, which was the lead architecture firm on Lincoln's new Pinnacle Bank Arena and on Omaha's CenturyLink Center, got the request in July from John Ingram, UNL's associate athletic director for capital planning and construction.

Siedhoff and fellow DLR Lincoln architects John Badami and David Ciavarella were given a shipping container and asked to re-create the stadium suite experience. From concept to construction, they had just six weeks to deliver, working with Rogge and a subcontractor, Davis Erection.

“I think it turned out awesome,” said Randy Rogge, owner of Rogge General Contractors.

DLR declined to discuss the cost of building the prototype. Empty, new shipping containers sell online for about $3,000, and the additional materials and labor would drive the price higher.

Siedhoff said the 20-by-8-foot shipping containers have been used in architecture for about 15 years. They've been retooled as residences, retail stores and restaurants, among other uses.

Siedhoff said architects find them interesting in part because of the strength of the steel structure. A builder can cut holes in it, stack things on top of it and weld pieces to it. DLR designed its container so that one side folds down into a deck and can be enclosed by a folding glass wall. A set of stairs attached to the back leads to the observation deck. It is, of course, painted red.

Siedhoff said the structures are intended to be deployed in groups, where people on the rooftops can “see and be seen.”

There's only one reason a fan might need to leave the structure — it has no bathroom.

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