Pops: Oklahoma's Modern Landmark

All modern isn't Mid Century. It's just that most new construction is numbingly bland. Ironic.

Route 66 Landmark in ArcadiaMost landmarks along Route 66 are vintage. One notable exception is Pop's Soda Shop. Since opening in 2007 the futuristic cantilever roof in Arcadia, Oklahoma has become an instant landmark for travelers on Route 66. But instead of a predictable Faux Fifties theme, this landmark carved a distinctively modern silhouette in the Oklahoma sky the evening we visited.

Pop's is primarily a gas station and burger joint conceived by natural gas magnate, Aubrey McClendon. The gimmick is pop. Lots of pop (or soda to you out-of-towners), all housed in that futuristic landmark with a 66-foot tall Coke bottle out front. It all combines to make this gas station a destination for locals and Route 66 tourists alike.

We stopped at Pop's Soda Shop in ArcadiaThe building is the product of OKC firm Elliott + Associates, a prolific source of modernist residential and commercial structures. The restaurant building is native red rock stone and glass, open and bright. Hovering above is a steel canopy that stretches 100 feet to cover the building and forecourt. Even the gas pumps are futuristic dispensers from Gilbarco.

The result? Thoroughly Oklahoma modern. It makes Pop's a unique spot to just hang out on the Mother Road. Or have lunch, gas up, or maybe even grab a pop!

Futuristic fule pumps at Pops.
Off-the-shelf concrete benches spoil an otherwise contemporary landscape.

Roof support detail from below.

Patrick Henry Apartments Come Down

Whenever you widen an interstate highway originally built in 1957, you're going to have to mow down some mid-century architecture. The latest victim of the I-44 widening in Tulsa is the Patrick Henry Apartments complex, until recently located on the west side of Harvard just south of Skelly Drive.

Patrick Henry Apartments, with Harvard Tower visible in the background.
In their heyday the Patrick Henry was quite fashionable.

Looking along the curved side of a mid-century apartment complex in Tulsa.More recently these units had become Section 8 housing and suffered badly at the hands of uncaring tenants. I snapped these photos while the demolition was ongoing. Considering this, the relatively good condition of the structure and interiors was actually quite amazing.

The two-story complex was comprised of two semi-circular sections that formed a football shape. A circular clubroom building in the center connected the two halves and served as laundry room, post office, etc. Even the stairways going up to the second story landings were circular.

The rotund theme was also carried into the living space. Kitchen areas featured round pantries (see photo below) and interior walls were curved as a matter of necessity. It's a shame the demolition company wouldn't allow some architectural salvaging to take place before the sledgehammers started flying.

Modern apartment with round closet!

Looking north from inside the complex.
My first exposure to these buildings was in the late Seventies when I held a summer job at the Trade Winds Hotel, who owned the complex at the time. I did light maintenance work at the hotel and was asked to check the toilet for one of the tenants at the apartment complex next door. My jaw dropped when I walked in and saw the round closet just inside the door!

I have no idea who designed these unique apartments. I'm pretty sure they're mid Sixties. If anyone can shed some light on their origin please click Comments below and share your insight!

35,000 and Counting

The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture is celebrating.

And you're invited!

Tulsa Foundation for Architecture
TFA was recently honored for their role as Tulsa's only architectural archive. The collection of more than 35,000 architectural drawings, bound periodicals, books and artifacts documenting Tulsa's built environment attracted the attention of Save America's Treasures, a program offering grants to protect nationally significant intellectual and cultural artifacts. In fact, they were so impressed they presented the local non-profit a five-figure grant to keep up the good work!

To celebrate this very noble honor the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture invites you to join them for their White Glove Revue and open house on January 15th.

4th Annual White Glove Open House
January 15th 4:00 to 7:00 pm
Tulsa Foundation for Architecture Archives
321 South Boston
Lower Level 01

That's in the basement of the Kennedy Building, conveniently located across the street from the dirigible mooring mast atop the 320 Boston Building (aka the NBT Building ((aka Exchange Bank)) [otherwise known as that cool deco building on the north end of Boston]).

For more information call 918/583-5550 or visit www.tulsaarchitecture.com

TFA Virtual Tours Highlight Modernism

Architecture tours are a big deal at the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. But the pandemic has put a damper on Second Saturdays, the popu...

Modern Choices