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Colorado Modern

So you're probably wondering, "What the heck does Colorado have to do with Oklahoma Modern?"

Well, for one Colorado borders Oklahoma. Barely.

Also the renowned architect Charles Deaton, designer of the "sculpture house" that overlooks I-70 west of Denver and is best known from the movie Sleeper, was raised in Oklahoma.

But mainly because... um, we recently visited Colorado for a week. So there. Now sit back and enjoy:



Modern Desk Designs

Jackie admires one of the 4x8 entries at S. R. Hughes.



The crowd favorite here on Brookside:


And a pretty cool chair too! Both from local designers. Here are some more of the designs that went on the auction block to benefit local charities.
What's your favorite?

Tulsa's IPE Building Deserves Better

Orange You Glad They Painted it Grey?

Not me.

Long before it was known as the Quik Trip Center, the immense building at Expo Square behind the Golden Driller was known as the Tulsa Exposition Center. Built in 1966 to provide an indoor space for the International Petroleum Exposition, the building featured a cable-supported roof covering more than 10 acres. Distinctive orange steel supports rose up from the prairie to hold the cable system.

The architect for the project was Bert E. Griffin and David R. Graham and Associates were the structural engineers. The clever cable system floating 3,500 tons of structural steel above the exhibit floor was so unique several patents were filed. The visual impact of the building was modern, but very business-like. The wide stance of the outermost support pillars echoed the "spider legs" of architect Richard Neutra. Giant beams rose up from the roof to grasp cables, almost like a giant bridge had been covered.

The structure and its eig…

Carpet City Annexed

Oklahoma's Largest Carpet Co.

For decades the neon sign at 15th and Delaware made this claim. Or variations thereof as certain letters burned out. But the Carpet City building  recently changed hands and is currently being renovated for use as medical offices. The sign was one of the first things to go.

Unfortunately the sleek sandstone building is also losing some of its most unique characteristics. Namely, the swooping triangular carport that has been a landmark since 1948. Yesterday we drove past and saw the front of the building stripped of its Mid-Century charm.

Here's a photo of the building a from a few weeks ago. Today it's not quite as cool.

Sniff, sniff.


Tulsa's Airport-henge

The terminal at Tulsa International Airport is a classic example of Sixties modernism. Built in 1963 it was designed by the local firm of Murray-Jones-Murray and was highly acclaimed at the time.

Just west of Tulsa International Airport's main terminal lies the less elegant general aviation area. This area is actually the original site of Tulsa Municipal Airport- the precursor to the sleek, jet-age airport most of us use today.

The general aviation area serves private planes and some military aircraft that stop in for refueling.

Near the corner of North Sheridan and Apache is where the original airport terminal building used to stand. Today on that site you'll find the local headquarters of the FAA and National Weather Service. This building is adorned with a variety of unique concrete forms on walls, benches and even this stylized windsock statue.




If you're interested in seeing what the original airport terminal looked like head north from here about a mile and visit the

What Not to Wear: Atoka Edition

Ever been through Atoka?

Of course you say, it's on the road to Dallas!

But have you ever ventured off US-75? If so, you may have noticed the Atoka County Courthouse.

The building is built of lovely sandstone and has those really cool swoopy concrete awnings. Sorry, but I don't know what they're really called- cool swoopy concrete seems appropriate. Maybe we can say CSC for short?

Anyway, the CSC theme continues along the side of the building, as shown below:


But look closely.

Almost as entertaining as the CSC shapes are the highly inappropriate porch lamps someone decided to stick on the side of the building. Not one, but a whole slew of lovely carriage lights! Can you say, gift card from Home Depot? So here's our nomination for the What Not to Wear category- congratulations to the Atoka County Courthouse!




Weave a New Fender

Concept cars are cool. But where does "concept" end?

The idea behind most concept cars is to prove feasibility or test new design ideas. Constructed mostly of bamboo and rattan, the Phoenix is intended to offer a glimpse of sustainable car design. I think this project might be more accurately described as a "fantasy" car.

The gearhead in me wants to dismiss this effort, by furniture designer Kennith Cobonpue, as merely art masquerading as a car. But I applaud his effort to explore new materials, as well as some really old ones.

Here's more info from our friends at Unica Home...

Concept Car by Kennith Cobonpue


BOK Center Hosts NCAA Tournament

This week the BOK Center was in the national limelight as Tulsa hosted the NCAA Tournament. The striking stainless steel structure has become a nationally renowned venue for sports and entertainment, and a catalyst for the rebirth of downtown.

But it wasn't an easy road.

What we know today as the BOK Center took three attempts at the ballot box and a lengthy public debate to become reality. The package known as Vision 2025 bundled the new arena with other downtown renovations, residential incentives and a proposed airplane factory. Tulsa County voters approved that measure in 2003, Cesar Pelli was asked to submit a design for the arena and the airliner deal lost out to Everett, WA.

The proposed design was mocked and criticized. Naysayers complained about the size, the cost, the location, the parking- and once the design was approved- the aesthetics. Detractors have called it everything from a crushed beer can to a steel tornado.

Cesar Pelli's arena design was the result of Tul…

Oklahoma City's Mid-Century Monolith

Oklahoma City's Mid-Century Monolith was more formally known as Central Motor Bank. Built in 1959, it was supposedly the largest drive-in bank in the world at the time, and able to accommodate 5,000 cars a day. It's located on Classen Boulevard at NW 5th Street.

There's two really great things about these ruins. I mean there's a lot of great things about it- don't get me wrong. But two really stand out for me...

First off, the heavy aluminum screen is just too cool. I mean can't you see that on the set of Star Trek? It's also a little odd to have what is essentially a room divider outdoors.

The second great part is the little blue tile. There's just something about a mosaic of 1" tiles that screams Mid-Century Modern. As if you didn't already know.

I remember seeing a vintage postcard of this building. It was a night shot of the drive-thru lanes and really showed off that sine wave roof. Today it's abandoned, most recently operated by Bank …

Is the Page Belcher Federal Building worth saving?

There is a possibility that in several years the Page Belcher Federal Building might be vacant. In the event that happens an obscure city commission wants the building gone. Or if not removed, at least re-skinned.

It was mentioned the building looks "out of place" compared to the BOK Center. I almost found that amusing. Next to the stainless steel skin of Pelli's arena it's hard for me to picture what might not look out of place. An aluminum dirigible? Or maybe a four-story mockup of a food processor?

But there's nothing amusing about the Council's intentions. They appear to be poised to level the 1967 structure to make way for something less out of place. At a meeting last October several people voiced their opposition to the idea of tearing it down- which seemed to surprise the council.

It's no secret that plenty of Tulsans think the building is an eyesore. I mean even the name is a handicap! Many like to compare the Page Belcher to the previous Federa…

Myriad Gardens: Like, Totally Tubular

Every time we pass by the Myriad Botanical Gardens it reminds me of the science fiction classic, Rendezvous with Rama.

And the unusual cylinder perched in the midst of downtown Oklahoma City is almost as mysterious as its fictional cousin.

Rendezvous with Rama was written by Arthur C. Clarke in 1972. The plot is based on an "asteroid" hurtling through deep space towards Earth. As it gets closer scientists discover the object is actually a 50-kilometer long metal cylinder- not an asteroid at all. Astronauts are dispatched to examine the mysterious object- codenamed Rama- and discover an artificial atmosphere inside, complete with clouds, islands and rain.

Just like the mystical spaceship in the book, the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Gardens is a cylinder. It even contains a somewhat artificial atmosphere- in this case it's a tropical garden in the middle of Oklahoma, instead of the vacuum of space. However, unlike Rama, it is not hurtling through space, …

Sandstone and Tears

Outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma in a small community called Park Hill you'll find the Cherokee Heritage Center

The centerpiece of this complex is the Cherokee National Museum- a classic example of Seventies "State Lodge" style architecture. Designed by Cherokee architect, Charles Chief Boyd, the building was built in 1972 from native sandstone rock and modular poured-in-place cement panels. The sloped walls and large window areas echo the design of ancient Cherokee structures.

Outside the entrance is punctuated by three columns- all that survives of the Cherokee Female Seminary School that burned in 1852. A small pond surrounds the columns and extends into the building, a cool feature that unites the interior with the out of doors.

Inside the museum offers a dramatic exhibit detailing the forced removal of the Five Civilized Tribes- a plight known as the Trail of Tears. There is also a recreation of a pre-statehood village and an ancient Cherokee village featuring a liv…

Raw Deal at Classen Curve

Nice Examples of Design Spotted Everywhere... even on our plates!
A few weeks ago we made the short trek up the turnpike to Oklahoma City and had lunch at a unique restaurant, while enjoying some modern architecture. The two come together at a new retail development called Classen Curve. And our meal was a treat for the eyes and the tummy!

The Curve project is near the intersection of Classen Boulevard and I-44, on NW Grand. It's another product of Chesapeake Energy and designed by their favorite firm, Elliott + Associates Architects. If you've ever visited Pops in Arcadia, the Chesapeake Boathouse or the Route 66 Museum in Clinton you've seen their work before. Clean lines and simple geometry typify their work, and Classen Curve is no exception.

The only establishment up and running in Classen Curve at the time of our visit was 105 Degrees. This is a raw food restaurant that also features a small market and chef school. A surprising array of entrees and desserts are availa…

More Fun with Concrete

It's no wonder so many cool modern buildings are made from concrete.What else is so strong and versatile yet relatively cheap? With the invention of pre-stressed concrete we saw a boom in unique forms that would have never been possible using standard techniques. Even the most utilitarian of structure could now have an exotic and lively look.

These mod concrete awnings over the pool at Henthorne Recreation Center are a perfect example.

They are reminiscent of the park shelters and roadside awnings from the Sixties, especially some picnic sheleters we saw in Enid. But these are larger than most with a span of more than 60 feet.

I especially like the subtle detail at each corner.

Next up is a simple example I noticed while on a recent business trip to Las Vegas. It's a stairwell I spotted behind the Las Vegas Convention Center. It reminded me of another modern stairway we looked at last December.


The simple form of the roof over the circular hole gives an otherwise mundane exit …

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 mol…

More Oklahoma Lustrons

We've been fascinated by the metal homes made by Lustron for many years. In fact, one of the very posts on this site was to document two examples here in Green Country (see Lustron: the Power of Steel). Now, here's an update to our search for Lustrons in Oklahoma.

Turns out there are three Lustron homes in Oklahoma on the National Register of Historic Places. Two are in Stillwater and one is located in Cushing. All three are grey and appear to be the two-bedroom model.

These are the two Lustrons in Stillwater. They're pretty similar except one has a mysterious aluminum patch near the entry.

The real prefab gem from this trip is this beauty in Cushing. Note the contrasting trim and optional Lustron garage out back. Very nice!



To locate Lustrons near you visit Lustron Preservation.org and use their handy, dandy Lustron Locator.

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 you see…

Modern Choices