Dimitri Hadzi’s 20-foot-tall granite sculpture, damaged and deserted behind metal barriers in Harvard Square for more than a year, will get a new waterfront home.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has transferred ownership of “Omphalos” to developer Michael Rauseo. The piece has been partially removed from the pedestrian peninsula it shares with Out of Town News, with plans to have the remaining stone in a Charlestown storage facility sometime next week.
Hadzi’s sculpture will be repaired and then installed on a public harborwalk in Rockport’s Pigeon Cove. Rauseo is building a housing development there.
“This is a great fit,” he said Thursday. “Rockport is very much a community that prides itself on its artists and Dimitri’s work will fit in very well in Rockport.”
Hadzi, an artist and Harvard professor, died in 2006. In 2011, an approximately 1,000-pound overhanging piece of the sculpture fell, crumbling to the sidewalk below.
Nobody was hurt, but the MBTA, which owned “Omphalos,” then decided to study the sculpture’s condition. A report by a Waltham engineering firm estimated it would cost as much as $320,000 to make recommended repairs. The MBTA increased that estimate to $500,000 due to inspections, police details, and project administration.
The cash-strapped agency said it couldn’t afford to make the repairs and, at one point last summer, the MBTA said it planned to demolish the work. That upset Cynthia Hadzi, Dimitri’s widow. On Thursday, she said she was pleased with the decision to move the work to Rockport.
“I’m really relieved,” she said. “Dimitri, he liked Rockport very much, he used to go quite a lot to look at granite in quarries. It actually seems awfully appropriate to me. Given that it can’t be in Harvard Square, I think it’s the best solution.”
“Omphalos,” whose title means “navel” in Greek, was installed in the 1980s as part of “Arts on the Line,” a program MBTA and Cambridge Arts Council partnered on to “humanize subway stations.” Hadzi’s work can be found in public spaces around the world and the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts and New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. But he took particular pride in the Harvard Square piece because he felt underappreciated in Boston and also loved the idea of having a work in such a high-traffic area.
Rauseo said he learned of the sculpture’s plight through a Globe story published in August. He graduated from Harvard in 1986 and has a cousin, Ethan Johnson, who took a class with Hadzi.
He estimated that it will cost him about $200,000 to repair “Omphalos.”
Geoff Edgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.