'Modern' art in downtown Orlando pays tribute to the past

Repurposed materials aim to inspire

ORLANDO, Fla. – A new public art display was dedicated in downtown Orlando and if you've been in the area long it might look familiar.

The towering geometric exhibit is made from one of the 120 interlocking pieces of exterior panels removed from what was known as the "Round Building."

The midcentury modern bank building once stood at the corner of Orange Avenue and Anderson Street. 

The landmark building was demolished to make way for the Dr.Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

But before that a grassroots effort was made to save the most striking elements. The nonprofit Nils M. Schweizer Fellows, a group of design enthusiasts, along with the city of Orlando, salvaged 66 of the panels with hopes of repurposing them in the future. 

"It's just paying tribute to the past," John Kaiser, Nils M. Schweizer Fellows member, said. "It's my belief that great cities pay great tribute to their history and I felt it was important that we show and remember part of Orlando's midcentury modern architecture period."   

The installment in Heritage Square Park is the first completed project created from the materials. Design, material and labor costs were all donated for the project.

"The crazy thing was that a lot of people thought we were nuts for wanting to remove the panels and then we saw on social media the amount of public support and the amount of people who had a connection to this building," Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan said."That building was kind of a piece of art in itself. I think that's why so may people were feeling sad when it went away." 

The group hopes it inspires ideas for future projects.


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