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Iconic KC ‘hair curler’ sculpture returns to Bartle Hall

Iconic sculpture returns atop Bartle Hall

Twelve tons of metal artwork was gently placed back atop Bartle Hall's support pylon early Sunday morning, following the repairs made by A. Zahner Co. over the past four months.
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Twelve tons of metal artwork was gently placed back atop Bartle Hall's support pylon early Sunday morning, following the repairs made by A. Zahner Co. over the past four months.

The helicopter hovered for a few moments, dangling a 12-ton metal sculpture just above the top of the easternmost 300-foot pylon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

When the sculpture — or “hair curler,” as locals call it — was lined up just right, workers locked it in place.

The operation apparently came off without a hitch.

Four months after being struck by lightning and taken out for repairs, the sculpture was back in its rightful place, completing again one of the most distinctive features of the city’s downtown skyline — the four Sky Station sculptures atop Bartle Hall.

The sculpture replaced Sunday, the largest of the four, was actually installed in two parts, requiring a second lift by the helicopter. Kansas City engineering firm A. Zahner Co. carried out the repairs at a cost more than $1 million. The city’s property insurance covered it.

City officials staked out a place for spectators at Barney Allis Plaza, but only a few people arrived at 7 a.m. to watch the delicate maneuver.

Among them were Mike and Alana Neale of Parkville.

“I’m an aviation buff. I wanted to see the lift of the helicopter,” Mike said. “So far, they’ve done pretty good.”

When the sculpture was removed for repairs, the couple had brought their children to watch. This time, the kids decided to stay home and sleep in, Alana said.

Across downtown, others who happened to pass by at the right moment stopped and took a picture.

“It’s kind of a unique opportunity to see what it was like when they were installed,” said Chris Hernandez, a spokesman for City Hall. “It just helps remind people that public art is important to our public buildings.”

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