Posts tagged with "Oklahoma":

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Michael Van Valkenburgh transforms Tulsa’s riverfront into a fantastical green parkland

The Gathering Place, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s newest public park, is anything but basic. Opened in early September, the 66.5-acre riverside landscape looks more like an ultra-green theme park than a typical urban park with trees thrown in for shade. Designed by landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), the $465 million project was dreamed up by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and backed by over 80 other local corporate and philanthropic donors. It’s located just 2 miles from downtown Tulsa on a formerly flat, scorching site along the Arkansas River. After four years of the first phase of construction, it’s now one of the city’s greatest amenities, providing spots for sport, relaxation, and water play underneath a sprawling tree canopy and atop grassy open lawns. MVVA transformed the topography of the existing site by creating various elevated landscapes and other sunken spaces with access to water. The firm also accentuated the native ecologies of the parkland and introduced wetlands, meadows, streams, and dry areas that inspire different types of interaction with nature. Thick logs for seating, fingerlike tree trunks for gathering, and local stone used for walls and mazes were additionally incorporated to connect the landscape as a whole and link it to the surrounding region. While the park boasts threads of regional bike trails, courts for ball-handling sports, and 21 points of entry and exit, it’s the surprising structural elements of play that make it stand out. MVVA designed a 5-acre adventure playground for kids age two to 12 that features seven thematic spaces: Volcanoville, The Land of the River Giants, Royal Tower, Fairy Land Forest, The Ramble, Spiral Connector, and Mist Mountain. According to the architects, these play areas are “boldly expressive and richly programmed,” with normal playground elements such as towers, suspension bridges, and slides, but also fantastic designs like climbable, large-scale animals, flowers, and fruit. Many of the play accessories are clad in steel as well as timber imported from the Alps. Accessibility is a key component of The Gathering Place. MVVA describes the guiding vision of the park to be a democratic space where all Tulsans can come together and experience an array of physically challenging and leisurely activities. Children in wheelchairs can easily access the playscapes through elongated ramps on all of the structures, like the giant, wood-slatted elephant with a truncated slide. The park also includes a pond and boathouse where families can check out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats. A coffee and ice cream cafe, as well as a dining patio and other picnic areas are situated in the northern part of the parkland near the play spaces to encourage extended stay. Toward the park’s south side, MVVA designed the Sky Garden and Four Season Garden, as well as Swing Hill, situated on the highest point of The Gathering Place with prime views of downtown Tulsa. At the farthest end of the park, visitors can enjoy courts for basketball, volleyball, street hockey, and soccer, or ride over to the skateboard and bike park, which offers courses for all ages and levels. A 50,000-square-foot children’s science museum will also be constructed in this area, coming late summer 2020. Phases 2 and 3 of construction, beginning next spring, will bring the park to a total of 100 acres.
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Oklahoma exhibit showcases graphics of golden age of passenger travel

Ticket to Ride, the show now up at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, gathers paintings, posters, and graphic works by artists and commercial designers who depicted Western rail companies and the landscape they traversed between the late 1880s and early 1930s, the golden age of passenger travel. Private cars were not widely available, so artists and illustrators relied on the Western rail lines, such as the Atchison, Topeka, Santa Fe, and other Western lines, for travel. The rail companies also commissioned artists and illustrators for images of Western subjects to decorate their offices and hotels. The exhibition features Hudson River School pioneer Thomas Moran and “Master Painter of the American West” Maynard Dixon, among those who rode the Western railways and enjoyed their patronage. Ticket to Ride Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma 555 Elm Avenue Norman, Oklahoma October 5 through December 30
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Olson Kundig is chosen to design The Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa

  The George Kaiser Family Foundation has just announced Seattle-based design practice Olson Kundig as the lead architect and exhibit designer for The Bob Dylan Center, a new exhibition space dedicated to the works of renowned singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It will be located on Martin Luther King Boulevard southeast of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The center will be the public venue for The Bob Dylan Archive, and is expected to break ground in 2019 and open in 2021. According to the center’s website, it will be home to a collection of more than 100,000 objects such as “handwritten manuscripts, notebooks and correspondence; films, videos, photographs and artwork; memorabilia and ephemera; personal documents and effects; unreleased studio and concert recordings; musical instruments and many other elements.” Olson Kundig won first place in the international competition for the job. In a rendering of the entrance released by the Foundation, an exuberantly colored painting by Dylan named The Beaten Path is printed on the wall. Curtain walls on the side introduce ample daylight to the seating area. In a rendering of the semi-outdoor exhibition space, one of Dylan’s quotes from Chronicles, Volume One is printed on the ceiling. People can slide into wall indentations and read, text, or quietly indulge in Dylan’s music. In an interior rendering, light boxes containing Dylan’s personal items float above the ground. Olson Kundig is partnering with Tulsa-based Lilly Architects, the architect of record for the project. Plains of Yonder will be the partner for audio and multimedia experiences for the building.
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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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A proposed cut to historic preservation tax credits in Oklahoma raises concerns

In October 2014, photos surfaced of John Johansen’s Mummers Theater, or rather, the theater reduced to a pile of scrap metal and rubble—the humbled remains of bold architecture traded in for corporate towers courtesy Robert A.M. Stern.

In 2010, before its demolition, the 1970 theater was vacant and severely damaged by flooding. Finding funding for historic preservation, especially for structurally compromised buildings, can be challenging.

And, if two Oklahoma state senators, Mike Mazzei and Rob Standridge, had their way—luckily the bill died on the Senate floor—more buildings could have lost funding sources for preservation and go the way of Mummers Theater.

This past February, the two Republican lawmakers introduced Senate bill 977, a sweeping proposal to close the state’s budget deficit by nixing a slew of tax credits for two years, including those intended for historic preservation.

Oklahoma’s Own News on 6 reported that the bill could affect Tulsa buildings like 400 South Boston, a planned hotel conversion; the TransOK building at Sixth and Main, a 30-unit residential building; and the Palace Theater, a residential conversion in process. The largest project to be affected is in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City: The $30 million renovation of the city-owned First National Center, a 33-story, almost one-million-square-foot 1931 art deco building at Broadway and Park Avenue.

On January 7, 2016, Oklahoma City awarded Lewisville, Texas–based NE Development the contract to preserve First National and convert it to the mixed-use trifecta of residential, retail, and hotel. Senate bill 977 was introduced the following day, complicating the project’s timeline and casting momentary doubt on its financial feasibility.

The issue with rehabbing big buildings like First National Center, said Luke Harry, president of asset management at NE Development, is that “you have to figure out ways to normalize the costs, not to make it cheap, but to make it regular. I could build a 30-story tower for half the price of rehabbing First National.”

The aim of federal, state, and new market tax credits, tax increment financing, and similar incentive programs, said Harry, is to mitigate the risk of investing in often-costly rehabs. “Nobody’s making money off of the tax credit, they’re making money off what you can do five, seven years down the road, once everything starts to stabilize.”

To many developers and preservationists, the cuts seem like a cheap shot. Harry explained that in order to receive a tax credit, his work—plans, rehabilitation, and completed construction—is checked at those three key points before the state issues any tax credits. “Everyone assumes the developers gets these credits. They don’t really understand that the money never gets close to [the developers]. We actually take a small loan out on the money. It’s not like when we have $20 million in tax credits, we’re walking around with $20 million in our pockets.”

NE Development will not close on the building until after May 27, 2016, the day the legislative session concludes for the year. Right now, the bill is in legislative purgatory. It’s been stripped of its title, and a title-less bill cannot be made into law. Roxanne Blystone, Senator Mazzei’s executive assistant, said that the bill was amended to reinstate historic preservation tax credits. The sponsors of the bill could resuscitate the bill during the next session, although this is not likely to happen.

While the near-certain death of the bill is good news for the historic preservation tax program, its mere presence has delayed the timeline of large projects like First National and all but killed smaller projects, especially in rural Oklahoma, observed Harry. Anticipating a delay like this, NE Development had two extensions related to preservation credits in its contract, “Mostly because it’s a longer process. We’re comfortable with our ability to get the credits, we’re just uncomfortable with whether they’re going to be there,” Harry noted, ruefully. Melvena Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer at the Oklahoma Historical Society, said that she doesn’t know if the bill has affected any projects yet, but the agency was “quite concerned” about that possibility early on.

If the threat of cuts to historic preservation has real-world ramifications in Oklahoma, the bill also raises questions around civic priorities and the future of preservation in the state. Harry suggested an intervention as simple as a lunch-and-learn for legislators to address misperceptions about the tax credits and give a clear explanation of how they work. “I think everybody would understand [the credits] because they’re just not tricky, they’re very transparent. Historic tax credits work really well. Without that money, beautiful historic buildings rot in place.”

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Bruce Goff’s spiralling Bavinger House in Oklahoma demolished

In 1987, the Bavinger House, designed by Kansas architect Bruce Goff was awarded the Twenty Five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Nearly 30 years on from receiving the award, Bavinger House, once lauded as a quintessential icon of organic modernist architecture, has been demolished. Originally built in 1955 in Norman, Oklahoma, Goff collaborated with artists Eugene and Nancy Bavinger as well as students from the University of Oklahoma to create a spiraling fan-like building whose core is shielded behind clumps of sandstone. The house's signature 96-foot-long spiral, which curved downwards in logarithmic fashion, mimicked that of a sail unfurling in the wind. Trapped in suspense, Goff showcased the tensile trends that were emerging in architecture at the time, with Frei Otto, a notable ambassador of this technique, earning his doctorate in tensioned constructions only a year prior. Among it's woodland surroundings, Bavinger House was pinned to the ground through a recycled oil field drill stem which was also used to elevate the central mast above 55 feet. With no interior walls, an array of multi-height platforms created space within the house while the ground floor was covered with pools and planting. For the House, Goff told the Chicago Tribune in 1995 that he "wanted to do something that had no beginning and no ending." "This house begins again and again," he continued. "Gertrude Stein talks about the sense of not being in the past, present or future tense, but in the 'continuous present.' I was thinking in those terms." In the decade leading up to 2008, however, reports filtered through of vacancy and the house's deterioration. Writing for the Architectural Review, Michael Webb said in 2005 that the house had "become as choked with vegetation as a lost temple in the jungle. It received the 25-Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1987, but today only the 'no trespassing' signs denote its presence—as a creeper-clad spiral of stone that can barely be glimpsed through the trees." After funding to restore the building ran into problems, the Bavinger House suffered more woes with heavy damage being inflicted after a storm in 2011. With the central spire being one of the more notable features in need of repair, the house's official website stated that the building would not be able to reopen. This statement was later amended to "Closed Permanently". That same year, the Oklahoma Office of Historical Preservation received an anonymous phone call from a man threatening to bulldoze the building. Local news station "News 9" suspected this to be Bob Bavinger, the now owner of the house and son of Eugene and Nancy and went to investigate. Upon arrival however, they were welcomed with gunfire. Speaking of the building's fate, the younger Bavinger told the Norman Transcript in 2011 that there was an ongoing conflict with the University of Oklahoma over the home's ownership and restoration. He said that demolition “was the only solution that we had, we got backed into a corner.” Come August 2012 though, the website of Bavinger House issued a statement saying: "The House will never return under its current political situation." Four years further on April 28 2016, Caleb Slinkard in the Norman Transcript reported “all that is left of the Bavinger House is an empty clearing.” For those who never had a chance to visit the building, a video walkthrough is available here courtesy of Skyline Ink.
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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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Oklahoma’s Will Rogers World Airport to get a new wing by FSB and HOK

The Oklahoma Airport Trust has approved the schematic designs for a new terminal expansion at Will Rogers World Airport. The design team, lead by Oklahoma City–based Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates (FSB), with partners Hellmuth Obata & Kassabaum (HOK), have integrated the latest in airport security, technology, and circulation into their brightly daylit plan. The addition will include a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) consolidated security checkpoint, allowing for more pre- and post-security space for the growing airport. With passengers exceedingly using their smartphones to check-in, the new security checkpoint is specifically designed with the changing nature of technology enabled travel in mind. Passengers will also have more viewing opportunities of the concourse, tarmac, and runways with a new observation gallery and suspended viewing deck. The terminal includes expansive windows as well as skylights throughout to fill the space with daylight. New shopping and dining options will also be integrated along with various seating and resting areas. One of the major goals of the expansion is to allow for more airlines to offer services to Oklahoma City as well as expand the capacity of existing carriers. To do so the new terminal will include four new gates, with the ability to add six more in the future. Regional Leader of HOK’s Aviation + Transportation practice, Will Jenkinson, commented on the ambitions of the project. “The Design will enable the airport to attract new airlines and reintroduce international travel, expanding its destinations and placing Oklahoma City on the map of the world’s top airports.”
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On View> Philbrook Museum of Art presents Allan Houser: A Celebration

Allan Houser: A Celebration Philbrook Museum of Art 116 East Brady Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma Through November 2 Allan Houser: A Celebration is an ongoing exhibition at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa that honors the paintings and sculptures of late Native American artist Allan Houser. The exhibition commemorates Houser’s 100th birthday this year and highlights his contributions to Native American painting and sculpture during his time as an active artist. The works displayed will center on the Indian Annual, an art competition sponsored by the Philbrook, which Houser both partook in and judged. Houser has a decorated history at the Indian Annual. He won the Grand Award (given to the best art piece in the show) a total of five times. In addition to those awards, Houser received the Waite Phillips Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1969 and judged the competition for 13 years from 1963 to 1976. Houser centennial appreciation is happening elsewhere in the state as well. The Oklahoma Museum of Art in Oklahoma City just concluded its exhibition Allan Houser: On the Roof.
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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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Slideshow> Michael Van Valkenburgh’s Design for Tulsa Park

[beforeafter]05b-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper 05a-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper[/beforeafter] As AN reported in our recent Southwest edition, Michael Van Valkenburgh is hard at work on plans for a massive park in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  According to the article, "The community expressed a strong need for the park to accommodate not just children, but the whole family unit. Having a variety of activities for a wide age range became a primary factor in the development of the design." The $300 million waterfront plan is expected to be complete by 2017. MVVA shared this set of renderings with AN to keep us excited in the meantime. [beforeafter]02b-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper 02a-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper[/beforeafter] [beforeafter]12b-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper 12a-tulsa-oklahoma-park-mvva-archpaper[/beforeafter]
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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.