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New Mutual of Omaha headquarters and 780

Jun 09, 2023

Mutual of Omaha breaks ground on new 44-story headquarters in downtown Omaha

Nebraskans love their cranes, especially the red-capped Sandhills kind that make a migration pitstop each year along the Platte River.

But this year two giant cranes, one yellow, one blue, have settled in for a lengthy stay near Omaha’s riverfront.

The big yellow one is a Liebherr model 630 Hammerhead tower crane.

The smaller blue one is a Comansa 310 luffing tower crane.

The two machines are providing a free daily show for curious office workers, engineering geeks and visitors to the Gene Leahy Mall as the machines do the heavy lifting on the new 677-foot-tall Mutual of Omaha headquarters building.

And they’re just getting started.

In the years ahead, the yellow crane will rise to 780 feet above the ground, making it the tallest crane ever in Omaha, according to Brian Krause, director of construction and development for Lanoha Real Estate Co.

That height is necessary, given what they’re assembling.

When finished in the summer of 2026, the skyscraper will be the city’s tallest building.

The $600 million skyscraper will be 43 feet taller than First National Bank Tower, which has been the city’s tallest structure for the past two decades.

While the yellow crane will eventually top out taller, the blue one can work in tight spaces because it has the ability to raise and lower the long arm in front called a jib.

Crane operators get a bird’s-eye view of the city — a job not for the faint of heart.

“They couldn’t pay me enough to sit in the crane tower,” said Dan Sall, eyeballing the big yellow crane from the Farnam Street sidewalk below.

Sall, a former Omahan now living in Indianapolis, was in town to help move a niece into the dorms at Creighton University.

“It’s great to be back in Omaha again and see all the new developments,” he said.

Krause said the crane operators communicate with their co-workers via radio to put loads into the correct place.

“The crane operators climb to the cabs early in the morning and stay up all day,” Krause said. “The cabs are equipped with heat and A/C as well as many safety features to help ensure the work is done safely.”

Wind is the biggest challenge they face, he said.

About seven months have passed since city officials celebrated the groundbreaking on the headquarters. Renderings of the building depict a glowing, sky-scraping tower of glass.

The skyscraper’s top floor will offer views in all directions from a two-story atrium and hold large conference rooms and other meeting spaces.

The public street-level lobby will feature displays paying homage to the company’s history, the services it offers and its impact.

Only recently have the first signs of upward construction become visible at the building’s site, bounded by 14th, 15th, Douglas and Farnam streets.

The groundwork on such a project comes first, securing the base of the cranes and seating the building’s supports in bedrock.

The supports for the future building are steel-cased, drilled shafts seated into bedrock and filled with concrete. The shaft diameters range from 3 feet to 8 feet in diameter depending on the load requirement.

At the Starbucks coffee shop across from the job site, employees felt the rumble of the initial groundwork.

“We have felt vibration here when they drill into the ground,” said shift supervisor Adriana Huerta. “The whole building shakes. It’s wild.”

The base of each tower crane is a large, cast-in-place concrete structure shaped like a box. It is anchored by several piles drilled deep underground to bedrock.

The first section of the tower is cast into the poured base and given time to cure and gain strength before additional tower sections are secured on top of the base, Krause said.

A third crane was needed to assemble the cranes initially.

As the building grows in height, the cranes will grow in height — they even build themselves. They lift new tower segments and, with the help of a hydraulic jack, add the segments to raise themselves vertically in 20-foot increments.

Both cranes are located just outside the footprint of the building. As the building structure rises, they will be attached for additional stability during construction, Krause said.

The center “core” portion of the tower is a concrete shear wall structure.

The final pieces of glass will be installed as the crane lowers itself back down to the ground after the building is topped out and mechanical systems are hoisted to the roof.

Omahans should start to see the garage structure taking shape this fall, Krause said. The first 15 floors of the building are a concrete parking garage. The timeline calls for completing the garage structure in summer 2024.

Completion of the tower structure is expected in summer 2025. The garage skin would be completed in winter 2025. Interior finishes would begin in spring 2025, with the tower skin complete in spring 2026.

The project is set for completion in summer 2026.

The general contractor is J.E. Dunn Construction Group.

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Mutual of Omaha breaks ground on new 44-story headquarters in downtown Omaha

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