Search tower dedicated at Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

“Search” tower dedicated at Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

The artwork is the result of a gift made in honor of longtime oncologist and cancer center director, Ken Cowan.

An 82-foot lighted glass tower designed by Omaha artist Jun Kaneko was dedicated during a lighting ceremony on June 14, 2017, near the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center on the UNMC and Nebraska Medicine campus.

The tower, which Kaneko has called “Search,” was given by a donor to the University of Nebraska Foundation who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift was made in honor of Ken Cowan, director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, who has served as the cancer center director at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine since 1999.

“The ‘Search’ tower is a cornerstone of the Healing Arts Program at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” Cowan said. “It will serve as a true guiding light for patients. It fits perfectly into the importance of art and healing.”

“Search” is positioned in the middle of a roundabout at 45th Street and Dewey Avenue. The tower itself is actually 75 feet high, but its 7-foot base brings its height to 82 feet.

“It’s a beautiful site. It fits perfectly,” said Kaneko, who has done art projects around the world.

“The cancer center is a huge creative center,” Kaneko said. “To be next to that kind of building, it’s an honor. I really appreciate this opportunity to be a part of this world-renowned cancer center.”

White and black bands of the “Search” Tower represent the patterns of human chromosomes, which comprise DNA and proteins, carrying basic instructions for cells in the form of genes. Mutations of normal chromosomes can cause cancer.

UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are thrilled to have Kaneko’s “Search” Tower, said UNMC Chancellor Dr. Jeffrey P. Gold.

“We are really fortunate to have an iconic representative of the Omaha community doing a major art feature for the medical center,” said Gold, who also chairs the Nebraska Medicine board of directors. “The glass tower will be widely appreciated by our students, faculty and staff as well as the whole community. It will be a beacon of light that will spread far and wide from our campus.”

Dr. Daniel DeBehnke, CEO of Nebraska Medicine, said the tower will provide a spectacular doorstep to the medical center.

“As Nebraska Medicine works to provide the most extraordinary care for our patients, there could be no finer art piece than the ‘Search’ Tower to welcome patients to the newest and finest cancer center in the country,” DeBehnke said. “This is truly a remarkable cornerstone of our Healing Arts Program.”

Healing Arts

The “Search” Tower is part of a series of art projects associated with the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center through the Healing Arts Program and the One Percent for Art Program, in which one percent of the cost of the building is set aside for art.

Other major art projects include:

  • The Chihuly Sanctuary, given by Suzanne and Walter Scott. The Chihuly Sanctuary is the most comprehensive health care environment structure ever created by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
  • Leslie’s Healing Garden, an outdoor, year-round garden made possible with a gift by Marshall and Mona Faith of Omaha. The Faiths’ daughter, Leslie, died of cancer more than 60 years ago.

Fast facts

  • 82-foot tower (75 feet of glass and 7-foot granite pedestal)
  • 1,800 square feet of glass
  • 24,438 pounds of glass; 16,482 pounds of steel
  • 24-foot circumference Dodecagon-shaped tower
  • Hand-cut and ground, hand-blown antique stained glass with color and opaque flash laminated onto 120 carrier safety glass panels.
  • Jun Kaneko has worked with a variety of glass techniques creating artwork for more than 40 years. This is the third project he has created using this technique.
  • The glass is chemically the same as a glaze except for light passes through it adding another dimension to the piece.
  • Master glass artisans at Derix Glasstudios in Germany fabricated the tower.
  • The tower is lit at night by interior LED diodes.
  • 7-foot-high Black and Bethel White honed granite pedestal
  • 65-foot roundabout features locally sourced black and gray pavers in radiating concentric rings.

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