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What’s that building with the giant concrete tower across from Cashman Field?

If you’ve ever wondered what that giant, concrete tower across from Cashman Field is, ask a Las Vegas local who grew up here in the ’90s and early 2000s.

The tower was part of the old Lied Discovery Children’s Museum and Las Vegas Library along Las Vegas Boulevard.

The $14 million, 104,000-square-foot building was designed by New Mexico architect Antoine Predock, who also designed the San Diego Padres Ballpark in San Diego and the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix.

Inside the museum, kids could walk up several flights of stairs to the near-top of the concrete science tower. The building also featured a cone-shaped room near the museum’s entrance that was used for birthday parties.

An inside look at the Lied Discovery Children's Museum's concrete tower from Jan. 21, 1994.
An inside look at the Lied Discovery Children's Museum's concrete tower from Jan. 21, 1994.

The 56,800-square-foot library portion opened in June 1990, with the 32,000-square-foot museum opening in September the same year.

Inside, visitors could find several exhibits about art, music and science, including a miniature supermarket, garage and airport — security checkpoint and all.

Lied Discovery Children's Museum (Las Vegas News Bureau)
Lied Discovery Children's Museum (Las Vegas News Bureau)

When the library first opened, it held around 100,000 books, with a capacity of up to 300,000 items, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in 1990.

After 22 years at the old building, the museum moved in March 2013 next to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, which wrapped up construction and opened in 2012. The new museum space has 26,000 more square feet than the building along Las Vegas Boulevard, and focuses more on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum, museum executives told the Review-Journal in 2013.

Ten-year-old Will Hall makes a large bubble at the Soap Bubbles Tray in the Lied Discovery Chil ...
Ten-year-old Will Hall makes a large bubble at the Soap Bubbles Tray in the Lied Discovery Children's Museum in Las Vegas Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010. The museum will move from its current location to a building near the Smith Center. (John Locher/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

With the move, the beloved bubble table went from a permanent museum fixture to an occasional display at special events and trade shows, and many of the old exhibits were donated to a children’s museum in St. George, Utah, the Review-Journal reported. The hurricane simulator, however, was carried over to the new space.

The old building owned by the city of Las Vegas is mostly unoccupied today, with the city’s Public Safety and Human Resources Department being its only occupant, according to city spokesman Jace Radke.

A sign for Heligenics Inc., a biotechnology company, is still on display outside the museum’s old front entrance, but the business has since left the space, Radke said.

Radke said in an email that there is “potential for other tenants in the future.”

For now, only the memories of the plasma ball remain.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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