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Leahy Mall artwork to get new home in north downtown

Leahy Mall artwork to get new home in north downtown

Only $5 for 5 months

Don't fret.

If you were a fan of that giant orange space frame that for decades hovered over the Gene Leahy Mall, it has been saved. And it's on the way to another life in a nearby neighborhood.

The truss-like art made up of big triangles was removed last week from its longtime perch at the mall's western entrance across from the downtown library. The mall is undergoing a complete revamp.

Crane workers laid the 1970s artifact on a flat bed big enough to handle the 120-foot-long by 20-foot-wide art piece. Off it went, with a police escort, to a lot near 13th and Nicholas Streets.

New guardians will figure out a permanent spot in the emerging Millwork Commons area.

Paul and Annette Smith, who are spearheading that redeveloping north downtown district, stepped up upon learning the space frame was destined for doom as part of the Leahy mall re-do.

"They pulled it out of the fire," said Michael Alley, a local architect helping with the new district.

Alley said space frame art was popular in its era, and now seems a perfect fit for Millwork Commons, a once-bustling industrial district that's also being re-purposed — in its case, as a home for tech and creative businesses.

The Millwork team currently is imagining different ways — perhaps suspending the space frame over a key street — that the piece might be re-installed, Smith said. It comes with a legacy, he said, but also a clean slate.

"The idea of rebirth — without forgetting where you came from — will be part of the story that attaches to this piece of Omaha's history," Smith said.

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