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“Take A Seat” Provides a Solution to Community Need Collaboration to Change the Look & Landscape of Leahy Mall.

At over 30 years old, the Gene Leahy Mall is showing signs of its age and popularity.  Even with recent public investment and visible improvements, this local icon faces its challenges.  One of the park’s needs includes the replacement of its original wood benches.  The Omaha Downtown Improvement District (DID), the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Omaha Public Art Commission and the City of Omaha, saw this need as an opportunity and that is how simply the “Take A Seat” solution was born. 



Driven by an interest in seeing the Gene Leahy Mall maintain its position as a downtown focal point, this collaboration developed a solution to replace the currently deteriorating benches with uniquely designed, artistically created and generously donated seating units. Omaha’s architecture and engineering community rose to the challenge to use their expertise and creativity to design, build and donate seating to be placed throughout the mall.

Omaha’s architects and engineers responded and have committed to generously creating and donating 13 unique seating structures for the mall.  Teams include: The Architectural Offices; Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects; Brian and Andrea Kelly; Bruce Frasier Architects; DLR Group; HDR Landscape Architects; HDR/DeMarco; Holland Basham Architects; Prochaska & Associates; Randy Brown Architects; RDG Planning & Design; Studio 360 Architecture; and Think Tank Design Studio.

“The new seating units have the potential to transform the Gene Leahy Mall,” said Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.  “What is already a destination for public art in our community will be enhanced into a sculptural seating gallery.  I applaud the work of those who came forward to support this project in response to this community need.”

“Not only is this a great addition to the Gene Leahy Mall, but an example of the pride so many Omahans have in our downtown and their willingness to help make our community even stronger,” said DID Executive Director Joe Gudenrath. “I look forward to enjoying the scenic views of downtown Omaha from the new seats that will greatly compliment the Gene Leahy Mall.”

“The "Take A Seat" project has demonstrated how creativity can have a powerful impact on the cultural landscape and civic life of a city,” said Bemis Center Executive Director Mark Masuoka.  “The Bemis Center is honored to be a partner in this creative solution and innovative project.”

Installation preparations for the seating units will begin in late April with installation beginning in May, followed by an official public dedication.   All seating units are being donated by their creators.  The Downtown Improvement District is funding the installation of the pieces, with guidance and in-kind support donated by the City of Omaha, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and the Omaha Public Art Commission.

-end- metroMAGAZINE

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