Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2009

ORU Upgrades Not All Good

Love it or hate it, the architecture of Oral Roberts University is nothing if not unique. For years I've heard that ORU is the most visited tourist site in Tulsa. I have no idea if that factoid is true. But I do know from my own personal experience that out-of-state visitors often ask me to drive them past the futuristic campus on South Lewis. What happens when Tomorrowland runs headlong into cold, hard reality? I think that's exactly what's happening at Oral Roberts University lately. Recent work on the space-age complex has mostly involved improvements to infrastructure- widening a creek, improving drainage, building a bridge. But some of the so-called improvements are more destructive. Until earlier this week the area around the base of ORU's famous Prayer Tower was a geometric plot of gardens and bubbling water fountains surrounded by tall trees. The garden was an integral feature of the futuristic complex, strategically situated below Tulsa's most unmistakab

Bruce Goff's Bavinger House

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 5   Probably the best known stop on our modern bus tour of Oklahoma City is actually on the outskirts of Norman. The bizarre abode known as the Bavinger House is nestled beside a two-lane strip of asphalt and hidden amongst blackjack trees and tall bamboo. The house juts up from the surrounding flora like an abandoned UFO. The brown roof blends in with the surrounding vegetation- yet its thin, steel supports (pilfered long ago from the cabane struts of a local aircraft manufacturer) glint in the sunlight. To call it unorthodox would almost be laughable- "other worldly" might be more like it!  Bruce Goff may have designed this unique structure, and today gets most of the credit, but it was Eugene Bavinger who built it over the course of five years. Many of the components were either dug from the nearby farmland or re-purposed from local sources. The fact it's still standing is a testament to Bavinger's ingenuity.   The roof and wa

St. Patrick's Catholic Church

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 4 Probably the most surprising stop on our OKC bus tour was this boxy concrete church on North Portland Avenue. We were amazed that we'd never come across this unique structure before. The Saint Patrick Catholic Church was designed by Tulsa architectural firm Murray-Jones-Murray in 1962. This is the same group that gave us the Tulsa International Airport, the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and many more fine examples of the International Style. But this church takes the simple, rectilinear lines of that style and turns it up a notch. From the outside we have a Brutalist structure of concrete walls. The parish members actually helped set the forms for these huge poured-in-place wall panels. The front of the building is dominated by a massive bell tower entryway. But pass under that and the fun begins! Inside the concrete box is a glass box- this is the actual sanctuary. But the first thing you'll notice inside are the modernist

The Recent Past

The Bruce Goff House in Vinita

We were recently surprised to learn about a Goff-designed home just an hour away from Tulsa in Vinita, Oklahoma. Vinita is probably best known to OK Mod readers as the home of the Glass House on I-44, also known as (shudder) the World's Largest Largest McDonalds . Anywho, turned out the Goff house was on the market, and the owner was more than happy to let us have a look around. We took a short drive up the turnpike one Sunday afternoon to meet the realtor, snap some pictures, ask some questions and enjoy another one of Bruce Goff's unique creations. The home is known as the Adams House and was built in 1961. The 3,700 square foot home is arranged in a circular floor plan with a large sunken "conversation pit" at the center. Rising up from this pit is a large metal fireplace, its chimney surrounded by skylights, which dominates the entire house. Rooms surround the perimeter with folding accordion doors acting as walls. To maintain some semblance of privacy an inner

The World Museum

The widening of I-44 through Tulsa will soon claim another mid-century building (see Modern Homes Make Way for I-44 ). This unusual landmark near Peoria, once known as the World Museum, is being emptied in preparation for demolition. The concrete complex was built in 1963 by the Osborn Ministries as a museum and "Interstate Temple." Self-proclaimed minister, T. L. Osborn, and his wife, Daisy, traveled the world as Christian missionaries and collected art and artifacts on their journeys. The unusual La Concha-esque building housed their partial collection and distracted motorists touring along the new Skelly Bypass (aka I-44). The exterior of the building is adorned with maps of the world's continents. In its heyday there was a good deal more- a giant outline of Jesus was on one wall. The inscription below it, "REX," provided one of my earliest Latin lessons when I asked Dad why that building had my name on it. There was also a large globe that once stood out fr

Visit to the Prairie Chicken House

This unique house on the edge of Norman, Oklahoma is known to most as the prairie chicken house. Designed by Herb Greene in 1960, he preferred to call it simply the Prairie House .  Thanks to the  Prairie House Preservation Society  (PHPS) it is now possible for the public to experience one of Oklahoma's most unusual architectural treasures.