Posts tagged with "Oklahoma":
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.”
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.”
“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.