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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 unmistakable s…

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.
While writing this fifth and final installment for On the Trail of Julius Shulman we received sad news of Shulman's passing at the age of 98.
While there were many remembrances published in the following days, one I found insightful was from the blog of retailer Design Within Reach. Shulman worked with DWR over the years on various projects and promotions. Their blog was titled simply, Remembering Julius Shulman.
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 almo…

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 angels…

Modern Choices