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Showing posts from June, 2010

International Style Open House

One of Oklahoma's Most Significant Modern Homes Open for Public Viewing Next Week On June 24, 2010 an open house will be held at the recently-restored Robert Lawton Jones House in Tulsa. A Look magazine article called it the International House of Style. This 1959 beauty is a textbook example of the International Style, and the first Mid-Century Modern house in Oklahoma to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Robert Lawton Jones was a principal architect with Murray-Jones-Murray, a firm familiar to any Tulsan who appreciates the art of minimal design. These are the folks that gave us the Tulsa International Airport, First Place Tower, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church and the Tulsa Assembly Center. Jones studied under Mies Van der Rohe, and it shows in much of his work. The simple lines and sparse ornamentation are hallmarks of his work. Back in 2008 I snapped these photos after an Oklahoma storm had toppled trees near the house. Fortunately the falling

Trade Winds Survives I-44 Expansion

All the work along I-44 has us frantically searching for alternate routes in and out of the Patrick Henry neighborhood. Skelly Drive resembles the Baja 500 and the intersection of 51st and Harvard has been a war zone. But the work is necessary, and long overdue. The Skelly Bypass, as this stretch of I-44 through Tulsa used to be known, was originally built in 1957. The stretch between Yale and the Arkansas River has been virtually unchanged since then. And it shows. Bridges and underpasses are crumbling, the lanes are narrow and entrance ramps have merge areas that are "Oklahoma City-short." During this much-needed expansion of the Interstate we have seen many unique buildings razed or molested. Many of them were built when Skelly Drive was new and modern, so they typify that Mid-Century aesthetic. One business that has survived the highway construction is the Trade Winds East. It's hard to tell nowadays, but this Motor Hotel was quite a tiki showplace when it opened

Bruce Goff Towers in Roland

On a recent trip to Arkansas we detoured through Roland, Oklahoma to visit a little-known structure designed by Bruce Goff. It's a trio of steel towers that mark the entrance to the Woodland Hills neighborhood. The 99 foot-tall towers were built in 1963 and are located in Roland along US-64, aka 1200 block of Ray Fines Boulevard. Each pole has rebar accents shaped like the reinforcements of a Rohn tower. At the base of the towers is a shallow reflection pool where a fountain and colored lights once accented the striking structure. Today the pool is dry and the lights are dark- but it's still a pretty impressive landmark in this Eastern Oklahoma town of only 3400 people. 

The Recent Past

OKC's Unique First Christian Church

The Church of Tomorrow Oklahoma's state capitol dome was added some 88 years after the capitol was built, finally completed in 2002. But not far away is another dome that has been turning heads since 1956. It's the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City. Call it a wigwam, igloo, earthbound spaceship or dome- no matter how you describe the shape of the sanctuary, it's definitely eye-catching. The thin-shell concrete dome is massive, with seating for 1200. Connected to the dome is a four-story administrative building and a 185-seat theater. Dedicated as "The First Christian Church of Tomorrow," the architecture caught the attention of local newspapers, as well as Life magazine (Feb. 1957). Last summer I had a unique opportunity to explore these interesting buildings. The main complex was designed by R. Duane Conner in 1953. Conner was a member of the congregation and offered three different designs for the church. Credit is also attributed to his partner, Fr

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

Oklahoma State Capitol Bank

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 2 "This is a bank," the sign outside the futuristic building read. According to legend a prankster added a strategic question mark and echoed the sentiment of many passers-by: "This is a bank?" That was back in 1964 when it opened. Today the Arvest on Lincoln Boulevard looks a bit less Jetsonian, mostly due to replacement of structural glass below the "saucers," but it's still an unusual bank. Designed by Robert Roloff of the architectural firm Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff, the State Capitol Bank caused quite a stir in Oklahoma City when it opened. Heck, it's still pretty shocking today! Originally the flying saucers appeared to hover above the building (as seen in this vintage postcard). All the glass that made that effect possible also made heating and cooling an expensive proposition. Security concerns also mandated replacement of those windows with solid materials and small square portholes