Posts tagged with "Oklahoma City":

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A major mid-century modern bank in Oklahoma City gets leveled

A long-loved landmark in Oklahoma City faced the wrecking ball yesterday after being placed on the state’s Most Endangered Historic Places list in May. The former Founders National Bank, a mid-century modern structure featuring two distinct, 50-foot exterior arches, was listed for sale at $3 million last fall but couldn’t find a tenant leading up to Monday’s last-minute demolition, according to Oklahoma’s News 4. Situated near the Northwest Expressway on North May Avenue, the iconic building has been an architectural icon of the city since 1964. It was designed by Bob Bowlby, a student of famous Oklahoma architect Bruce Goff, and was originally built for Founders National Bank, eventually becoming the home of Bank of America for over 20 years until last August. It was Bowlby’s first project after finishing his degree at the University of Oklahoma and the only one he’s completed in his hometown.  Preservationists and advocates for the building are already mourning its loss. The unique arches—the focal point of the design—were easily visible from the city’s arterial roadways and drew people to the modernist building for well over half a century. Bowlby’s spaceship-like structure, sometimes also likened to a large-scale football, allowed the interior to be designed without walls. Brick walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows lined the oval perimeter and a white, concrete roof seemingly floated atop its round core. Suspension cables, much like the ones seen on suspension bridges, connected the arches to the roof. A multi-lane drive-through was also designed next to the building. While several groups had repeatedly pushed to save Founders National Bank since news began circulating about its potential fate in early 2016, crews began tearing down the football-shaped structure this week—the same day a building permit was filed for its demolition. NewsOK noted that since the bank wasn’t protected by historical jurisdiction, its current owner, the Austin-based Schlosser Development Corp., was able to move forward with plans without consent from the city or public. In January 2016, an online petition to preserve the building was started via the modern architecture blog, Okie Mod Squad, and received 1,072 supporters. In a post dedicated to the event, Bowlby himself commented on the controversy:
My design and the subsequent building of the Founders National Bank building of 1964 is, I think, a one of a kind and interesting example of the contemporary Oklahoma architectural scene in its mid-century period and as such should be kept if at all possible as part of the architectural heritage of Oklahoma City. Surely, an effort could be made made by the new owners to find some new and suitable usage of the building.  
So far, Schlosser Development Corp. hasn’t released plans to redevelop the two-acre site. The building was one of many mid-century modern icons built in the city’s Founders District, as well as several others throughout the state of Oklahoma, including Goff’s Bavinger House, which was destroyed in 2016.
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This Oklahoma City project will feature a 42-foot-wide oculus

When I was in architecture school, I, like most of my contemporaries, doodled my way through lectures. In fact, I still do the same in meetings today. And as my pen inflicts the pages of whatever unfortunate sketchbook I have selected, I find myself more often than not being drawn to vandalizing the ring-binder hole punches in the margin.

Never once did a doodle around this area of any page of mine result in the design of a building. Perhaps that is why I am not an architect. A look at Rand Elliott’s Full Moon residential complex in Oklahoma suggests I missed a trick.

Elliott and his firm, Elliott + Associates Architects (EAA) have found a quite unique way to appease fire regulations and maximize a restrictive site to accommodate ten housing units. The 37-by-140-foot site at 322 North West 12th Street in Oklahoma City was, as Elliott described, “leftover” and “ignored” space.

The architect chose the site for this particular reason. “I think Oklahoma is lacking living spaces that have a wonderful personality to them,” he said, adding that discarded sites are often in great locations and have potential. “I set about to try to design something that would be distinctive, a landmark, and a real attraction to a certain group of people who want to live around creative and artistic people,” he explained.

In his assessment of the area, Elliott found that the percentage of window space available was limited. Having a series of small windows, he said, “seemed like a waste of time,” so instead he opted for an idea using an oculus 42 feet in diameter, embedded into a 60-foot-high sprayed-white concrete structure.

The oculus is oriented so that it frames views eastward, onto a 1920s modernist brick neighbor, and westward, where residents can look out at the dramatic sunrises and sunsets typical in Oklahoma. It also shelters a small garden area below.

EEA worked extensively with the city’s fire marshal’s office on the project. The unorthodox design required special attention due to the fire marshal having never encountered a proposal like this. Some design elements, such as the bridge spanning the upper level to provide more than one exit point, were born out of these discussions.

As for the housing units, Elliott explained, each one interacts with the oculus and, instead of each one being a “cookie cutter,” every unit has a unique floor plan. According to the architect, every unit offers an 180-degree view, each with a different perspective.

Work started on Full Moon roughly a year ago, and Elliott expects construction to start in the next few months, with the view to have people moving in in a year. Last year, EEA celebrated its 40th anniversary. “The best work that we’re doing is right now,” Elliott said. “They say architects produce their best work as they mature, and that’s what I’m feeling.”

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2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development by SOM

The Architect’s Newspaper (AN)’s inaugural 2013 Best of Design Awards featured six categories. Since then, it's grown to 26 exciting categoriesAs in years past, jury members (Erik Verboon, Claire Weisz, Karen Stonely, Christopher Leong, Adrianne Weremchuk, and AN’s Matt Shaw) were picked for their expertise and high regard in the design community. They based their judgments on evidence of innovation, creative use of new technology, sustainability, strength of presentation, and, most importantly, great design. We want to thank everyone for their continued support and eagerness to submit their work to the Best of Design Awards. We are already looking forward to growing next year’s coverage for you.

2016 Building of the Year > Southwest: U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Location: Colorado Springs, CO

The Center for Character and Leadership Development is a 46,000-square-foot education center located at a critical meeting point between the campus’s cadet and public areas. As an architectural focal point for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s campus—itself originally designed by SOM in 1954—the building’s dramatic 105-foot skylight aligns precisely with the North Star, creating a meaningful architectural interpretation of the Academy’s aspirations and guiding values. The Center contains a flexible gathering space for academic and social interaction; a series of collaboration, conference, and seminar rooms; offices; a library; and the Honor Board Room, where inquiries related to the Cadet Honor Code take place.

Lighting Consultant Brandston Partnership, Inc.

IT/Acoustics/AV Cerami & Associates Skylight glazing Interpane Storefront glazing Viracon

Honorable Mention: Building of the Year > Southwest: American Energy Partners Fitness Center

Architect: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Location: Oklahoma City, OK This arched steel structure spans an existing unused concrete basement in northern Oklahoma City, dynamically transforming it into a sports and leisure hub that provides a wide variety of facilities, including two racquetball courts, a climbing wall, a basketball court, fitness studios, changing rooms, a cafe, and a running track.
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Deborah Berke redesigns an old Albert Kahn factory into a hip hotel

In 1916, trains could pull up directly to Oklahoma City’s Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant to deliver kits of parts for cars; in 1968, Fred Jones, once an entry-level worker at Ford, bought the plant and founded Fred Jones Manufacturing Company; and as of June 2016, hotel guests can check into the very same building to browse 14,000 square feet of art. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson of 21c Museum Hotels worked with Deborah Berke Partners on their sixth collaboration together to transform the assembly plant into a boutique hotel.

The building, originally designed by Albert Kahn, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Berke and her team restored or recreated many of the plant’s original features, such as the Model T showroom’s terrazzo floor, casement windows, storefront, and entry, as well as the exterior lighting and Fred Jones Manufacturing signage. The car showroom space has been reimagined as a bar and lounge, and the original train shed is an outdoor bar and dining area. Industrial and mechanical fixtures throughout the 23 guest rooms and common areas reflect the structure’s automotive history. The building’s original penthouse apartment is now a suite. 

21c’s curator, Alice Gray Stites, commissioned artwork that also references the site’s industrial past with Woozy Blossom, a misting mechanical tree by Matthew Geller; James Clar’s River of Time, in which conveyor belts are covered with colored acrylic sheets to create moving panels that “flow” over a large LED clock, and other site-specific works. Rotating exhibitions will come through the hotel that highlight up-and-coming artists and the city’s own art scene.

21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City 900 W Main Street Oklahoma City, OK Tel: 405-982-6900 Architect: Deborah Berke Partners

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RIVERSPORT Rapids is the latest extreme-sports addition to Oklahoma City’s riverfront

While cities around the country are transforming their riverfronts to encourage recreation, Oklahoma City is taking the Oklahoma River to the next level. The seven-mile-long formerly swampy stretch of land on the edge of downtown has been brought back to life through a series of dams and structures for adventure sports including kayaking, rowing, zip lines, climbing walls, hiking trails, high speed slides, and paddle boarding. The latest addition: RIVERSPORT Rapids, a 45.2 million, 11-acre whitewater rafting and kayaking center along the river; one of many attractions in a 60-acre stretch called the Boathouse District.

The whitewater center, engineered by Lyons, Colorado-based whitewater design firm S2o, is located just adjacent to the river. It includes two roughly 3,000-foot-long concrete channels (their angular lateral surfaces softened with plastic barriers), each stepping down about 24 feet. The average trip down takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Six 12,000-pound pumps send water from the bottom back up to the start, and large conveyor belts bring racers back up while still in their vessels.

“We put a Rocky Mountain experience in the Great Plains,” S2o president Scott Shipley said. His firm also engineered the London Olympic rowing center, Dorney Lake, and the U.S. National course in Charlotte, North Carolina. The nonprofit OKC Boathouse Foundation will operate the new center, offering rafting, kayaking, and tubing, among other activities.

“Oklahoma is a sports place. It’s really embraced this, and it’s helped create a renaissance here,” added architect Rand Elliott, whose Oklahoma City firm, Elliott + Associates, has designed and master planned the Boathouse District, a compilation of boathouses, entertainment venues, offices, and more, over the past 13 years. The rapids and the district were funded as part of MAPS 3, a one-cent sales tax initiative (already renewed four times since the early 1990s) that will give $777 million to new development citywide, with $60 million earmarked for the Oklahoma River. 

For years, the river, once known as the North Canadian River, was an almost dry waterbed that locals joked about mowing instead of rowing. A $53 million project completed in 2004 rejuvenated the river.

Along this stretch Elliott + Associates has designed angular glass and steel buildings that line up along the river like boats about to race. They include, among other structures, the Chesapeake Boathouse, CHK Central Boathouse, Devon Boathouse, CHK Finish Line Tower, and the SandRidge Sky Trail, a zipline course that resembles a crazy straw. At night the buildings are lined with different colors of LEDs, creating a mesmerizing draw for visitors.

“We’ve poured our whole life and soul into this to make it an architectural masterpiece in that everything is connected yet still individual and interesting,” said Elliott.

But the main event is still the water sports.

“As more people move to cities, they need this kind of recreation in their lives,” said Shipley, “We can bring it to where they live and work.”

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The tragedy of Mummers Theater and the failed development that spelled its demise

The sad saga of the destruction of John Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City has just gotten even sadder. AN has reported numerous times on the effort to save Johansen’s 1970 tour de force Stage Center theater, but that battle was lost in 2015 when the extraordinary building was destroyed to make way for a complex of four corporate towers designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The theater was destroyed and the site is now a vacant lot with a large rainwater-filled hole in downtown Oklahoma City. The Oklahoman newspaper and its reporter Steve Lackmeyer report that the tower project, meant to be a home for OGE Energy Corporation, has been put on hold due to the downturn in oil prices by its developer and builder Clayco. But Lackmeyer reports that the story is more complicated and may in part have been stopped because the developers wanted a government subsidy to build the project and it was not forthcoming. OGE acknowledged that “their vision is no longer feasible (and) this is a prime site and deserving of a bold development and OGE is committed to preserving it.” How sad that the site once had one of the boldest buildings in the United States and certainly the most distinguished work of architecture in the city and was destroyed to make way for a failed “bold development.”
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Letter to the Editor> A-OKC: Oklahoma City should reconsider demolishing its Modernist heritage

[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com] Thank you for your piece on Oklahoma City—much needed attention to what is happening there. Having grown up in Edmond, just north, I have watched good buildings disappear over time. Seeing Johansen’s model of Mummers Theater as a child was the first I became aware of architecture and that buildings could be different. I was truly amazed that what I was seeing was a theater! It was heartbreaking to watch it come down and I am still suffering from survivor’s guilt. I very likely would not be an architect if not for that building. Much of the concern over the fate of these buildings come from the coasts and I know that your work will help inspire the many in Oklahoma who value architectural diversity. Lyn Rice Terreform-ative
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Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo lead nation in growth of bicycle commuters

Portland still dominates the American Community Survey ranking the 70 largest cities with the highest share of bike commuters, but the list shakes up some preconceptions when you count which cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013. The League of American Bicyclists runs the numbers every year, pulling data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. This year's bike culture report card, as it were, has Portland, Washington, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New Orleans topping its list of bicycle commuters as a percentage of total population. In total 13 cities report more than 2 percent of their population biking to and from work. Growth in that number is more startling. They're small overall numbers, perhaps inflating the percent change figure, but the growth since 1990 for eight cities is over 100 percent. The following cities had the largest growth in the share of bicycle commuters from 2000 to 2013:
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Letter to the Editor> Murmurs for Mummers

[Editor's Note: The following are reader-submitted responses to the editorial “Acceptable if not Noble” (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW), which considered the imminent demolition of John Johansen’s Mummer’s Theater in Oklahoma City and the renovation of Ulrich Franzen’s Alley Theatre in Houston. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com. ] There were local groups working hard to preserve and repurpose the Mummers Theater and conceptual plans put forth that incorporated the existing theater into a larger cultural and commercial mixed-use complex. My father supported and encouraged these efforts as an important and necessary evolution of this building, and architecture in general, to reinvent itself by adapting and embracing new ideas and technology. The counterforce was money in the hands of opportunistic, short sighted men and women with too much power and too little imagination. Christen Johansen Rhode Island School of Design Franzen would have added the fly loft. And zinc cladding does not exactly bring to mind corporate office buildings. Craig Hunt
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Glass Tower May Replace Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City

Fans of John Johansen's legendary Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City have yet another reason to shake their heads in amazement. Not only is the idiosyncratic modern masterpiece set for a date with the wrecking ball, there is now a proposal for the building that may replace it. Kestrel Investments has filed an application with the Oklahoma City Planning Department to demolish Mummers—now known as Stage Center—and put in its place a 14- to 16-story tower that would become the headquarters of OGE Energy Corp. Designed by local architectural practice ADG, the $100 million proposal master plan also includes a second tower of eight-to-12 stories that would be developed separately. Both towers are located adjacent to a multi-story parking structure that includes retail and restaurants. A daycare and play area will overlook Oklahoma City's Festival Square. If approved, the project could begin construction as soon as 2015 with completion of the first tower slated for 2017. In July, Kestrel purchased the site for $4.275 million from the Kirkpatrick Center Affiliated Fund of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which acquired it from the Arts Council of Oklahoma City after floodwaters and vandals damaged the theater in 2010. The fate of Mummers now rests in the hands of the Downtown Design Review Committee, which must approve the demolition permit before Kestrel can clear the site and start construction on its new development. But Johansen's masterpiece won't go down without a plaque, or something, in memorialis. Rainy Williams Jr., Kestrel's president, told The Oklahoman that he hopes to include a tribute to Mummers as part of the new project. "Our thought is that it will be something to recognize the architectural significance of Stage Center, and hope to do something that marks that legacy and seek ideas from the arts community as to what that might be," he said.
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Johansen’s Oklahoma City Mummers Theater Will Live on in Memory

[Editor's Note: Tracey Zeeck is an Oklahoma native and resident who has been leading the effort to save and preserve John Johansen's classic Mummers Theater in that city. She responds here to a letter to the editor in the Oklahoma Gazette. ] In 2012, armed with good intentions and a passionate group of friends and family, Farooq Karim of REES Associates and I decided to respond to an RFP and save John Johansen's Oklahoma City masterpiece, Stage Center (Mummers Theater) from the wrecking ball. We would turn this vestige of 1970s brutalism into a children's museum and light up downtown with joyful sounds of creative play. We had two months to create the plan, submit the RFP and raise $30,000,000. We didn't make it. Fast forward to 2013: Johansen, who had blessed our transformation plan, has since passed away and an Oklahoma City developer has purchased the property. He will tear it down and build in its place a 20-story office building next to our city’s newest monument, a 50-story glass building housing an oil & gas company. I recently stumbled upon this letter to the editor in the Oklahoma Gazette, and finally there are words…
“Tinker toys” they say “grain elevator, cotton gin.” and I say yes Art in imitation of the functional The compartmentalized sphered cube holistic three-dimensional sculpture holding sculpture. Let’s say a tribute to the workplace of the farmers hip deep in their work using sheet and cast metal enhancements and to construction workers birthing steel-boned concrete poured with native stone and sand, transcendent technology saving backs, protecting the future So sons and daughters could be teachers and doctors And their progeny artists and philosophers. Is this hearing place obsolete? After founding, nursing, and sustaining numerous theater companies, those ineffable entities, neither thing nor place, nor just knots of artists contending with themselves, but also made of the eyes and ears of those who looked outside the TV sets of the last forty years, the CinemaScope, and now away from the handheld screen with tight drawn hoodie, and listened with tears and laughed out loud, actors holding in compliment, in concert with their momentary peers.
Read the full poem at the Oklahoma Gazette website.
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Wrecking Ball To Swing On Johansen’s Mummers Theater

Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architect John Johansen's Mummers Theater for $4.275 million and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural work by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure. Johansen completed Mummers in 1970 during a heady period of experimentation within the fields of art and architecture. His decision to separate out the facility's program elements and mechanical systems into discreet enclosures linked by bridges and tubes was inspired by the assemblies of electronic chip boards and established a hitherto unknown vocabulary for architecture. The building was renovated in the 1990s by Oklahoma City firm Elliott+ Associates Architects and rebranded Stage Center. It was closed after extensive flooding damaged the facility in 2010. According to News OK, The Oklahoma City Community Foundation gave the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the AIA five months to find a buyer for the site. When no buyer stepped forward, Kestrel's bid was accepted. No architect has been announced, nor designs unveiled, for the new tower. Kestrel is still working on finding an anchor tenant for the development. If and when the project goes through it will be the first new speculative Class A office space to be built in downtown Oklahoma City in 30 years.