Showing posts with label preservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preservation. Show all posts

Friday, February 18, 2011

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 Federal Building at 3rd and Boulder. That ornate structure was built in 1928 and has columns like any respectable post office should. Those folks have a hard time understanding that simply adding ornamentation does not make a building grand.

In recent years there have been some updates to the Page Belcher building that weren't exceedingly kind. Concrete barriers were added after the bombing of the Murrah Building. Some of the doors with that cool oval window have been removed to add accessible sliding doors. But I have always liked the scalloped facade and aluminum screens running up the sides. The green granite walls of the ground level and terrazzo floors certainly seem plenty business-like to me. And I don't care what anyone says- it looks just fine next to the BOK Center.

There's a rumor that Tulsa's Federal Building was built upside down.

Seriously. I've heard this from several sources.

I don't know if it's true- but the ornamentation on the sides of the Page Belcher Federal Building would certainly shed rain better if they were turned over! The scallop designs have a cup-shaped bottom that birds love to nest in and collects water. The top of each scallop is open and begs the question- are they upside down?


This photo shows the stains from rain collecting in the scallops.


The story goes that these were supposed to be at the top of the building with the open end facing down. By the time someone noticed it was too late and the construction continued.

So what do you think? Are they really upside down? Or is it just an urban legend?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tulsa Roller Coaster Pops Up on eBay

Bit of sad news comes to us via Facebook today. A piece of Tulsa history is up for sale on eBay- the Zingo roller coaster from Bell's Amusement Park.

Zingo Roller Coaster on eBay

While not what most people consider "architecture," I consider a wooden roller coaster built in 1968 an intriguing piece of design. Not to mention a historically significant piece of local history, and roadside Americana!

Bell's was opened on Tulsa Fairgrounds in 1951. They were forced to close in 2006 after a squabble over the amusement park's lease. Efforts were under way last year to relocate the park to Coweta, but the deal is still in the formative stages.

If you'd like to test drive Zingo before you bid here's a video filmed in 2003...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Light Bugs: Fascination with Neon

Tulsa has some great neon signs. Unfortunately we had a whole heck of a lot more. That was before many of these metal, glass and argon works of art were scrapped, bulldozed or "updated" out of existence. But a new publication celebrates the survivors, and strikes a blow for preservation in this never-ending war against the supposedly outdated.

A soon-to-be-released booklet from the Tulsa Foundation on Architecture (TFA) is called Tulsa Vintage Neon. It features photography by Ralph Cole and is printed on durable, high gloss stock. The booklet is the result of a citywide inventory of Tulsa's glowing billboards. Copies are available for only $7.95 from TFA.

Efforts like this not only raise awareness within our community- they sometimes attract nationwide attention. Such was the case when the magazine Signs of the Times printed an article about Tulsa's inventory of classic neon, and TFA's efforts to preserve it. Tulsa neon was even featured on the cover!

One of Tulsa's most notable survivors is the Sheridan Lanes sign. It's a great postwar example of animated neon signage. If you'd like to have a look for yourself go to 31st Street just east of Sheridan in Tulsa. But wait until dark!


You can purchase the new Tulsa Vintage Neon booklet and other cool stuff from the TFA online store!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Prairie Church Matters

This Place Matters: Oklahoma church building featured on National Trust for Historic Preservation website.

The unusual Hopewell Church in Edmond, OK was designed by Bruce Goff in 1948. Often referred to as the "tepee church," it was completed in 1951, but has sat vacant since 1989.

But the National Trust hopes to preserve such iconic structures. You can learn more about the Hopewell Church, or help save it by spreading the word or making a financial contribution through the Trust's Community Challenge.


Photo courtesy of Preservation Oklahoma

Friday, May 21, 2010

SandRidge Demolition Stalled

The proposed SandRidge Commons project was put on hold Thursday by the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment. The board cited a lack of information and granted the appeal instigated by Preservation Oklahoma.

The next round in this ordeal is scheduled to take place June 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm.

Full article from the Daily Oklahoman.

Monday, May 17, 2010

OKC Development Threatens Historic Buildings

A recently proposed development by SandRidge Energy in downtown Oklahoma City has preservationists jumping into action.

There appears to be two parts of this story that have brick huggers hopping mad. First off is the planned demolition of OKC's oldest structure, the 1902 India Temple building. The second, less obvious part of the controversy, is the process by which the development was approved by the Downtown Design Review Committee.

I don't pretend to know much about either topic, so I'll use the magic of the world wide interwebs to silently transport you to information nirvana....

To learn about the buildings being threatened refer to Doug Loudenback's recent blog, What Have We Got to Lose.

To learn more about the controversial decision and the effort to appeal it visit Keep Downtown Urban.

All of this is building up to an appeal hearing on Thursday, May 20, 2010 before the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment. We'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tulsans Enjoy Another Mod Moment

Modern Tulsa's second Mod of the Moment event was quite a treat for the folks that attended.

Relax on the patio and enjoy the brick monoliths.From curbside the house looked moderately interesting. The only real hint this was a notable mid-mod abode was the carport in lieu of the usual garage. But once inside the magic happened. Small windows and ceiling lights featured butterflies and leaves encased within the glass. Terrazzo floors throughout and an open floorplan made this a worthy stop for this ongoing series of open houses. I've included a few photos to give you an idea of just how cool this house really is.

Mod Moments
The "Mod of the Moment" is a series of open house events showcasing modern and contemporary homes that on the market, or soon will be. These events are a great idea for a number of reasons.

First off, fans of these "unusual" homes get to tour them along with others who appreciate the contemporary aesthetic. It's not just camaraderie though- networking like this is fun and educational. And it's not uncommon for knowledgeable architects to attend who are more than happy to answers questions.

This Tulsa home offers Mid-Century hip throughout.Second, these events raise awareness among individuals involved in the real estate market. This is important because realtors often encourage sellers to perform work on a home before it goes on the market. Realtors that have a better understanding of Mid-Century Modern are less likely to suggest inappropriate renovations.

It's not uncommon for sellers to spend money on unnecessary renovations. I can't count how many times I've heard potential buyers lamenting the recent removal of period features or "outdated" tile. This is just one more case where preservation can often be a win-win for all parties involved.

Bedroom showing unusual glass with embedded wildlife.To learn more about Modern Tulsa and future Mod of the Moment events visit www.moderntulsa.net.

Friday, February 5, 2010

OKC's Unique First Christian Church

The Church of Tomorrow

The unique sanctuary of the First Christian Church of Oklahoma CityOklahoma'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, Fred Pojezny.

It's All About Circles
The footprint of all three buildings in the church complex are round. The largest, and most renowned, is the main sanctuary. Connected by a small stairwell/atrium made of glass and sandstone is the Educational Building. Behind that is the Jewel Box Theater which offers theater-in-the-round. Finally, behind all this is the striking carillon spire, that  has doubled as a cell tower since the Nineties.

This administration building and the bell tower.At first glance the two smaller structures seem in contrast to the organic lines of  the dome-shaped sanctuary. The center Educational Building has very angular metal awnings that give it a more Euro-industrial look. The little theater is also an angular structure. On my first visit I assumed these two buildings were additions, but was assured they were original. Later research uncovered one possible explanation for this melange.

Aerial view showing the complex and reflection pool.
This aerial view was found in a church history published in the Eighties and appeared in the Daily Oklahoman. Note the location of the reflection pool- now a playground.
Browsing through the church archives I found several items of interest. One was a promotional piece published shortly after the congregation approved the building's design. The design they approved was the second offering from Connor, and renderings appear in this promotional brochure. But the tower and sanctuary design we see today are quite different, much more angular than the third variation that was eventually built.

In addition to the main church complex, there are two outlying buildings. One is a youth center and the other is dedicated to the operations of the Oklahoma Interfaith Alliance. Any one of these structures is a treat of Mid-Century Modern architecture; taken together it verges on a hipster Disneyland.

All of these unique structures are at the center of what originally spread across 40 acres in an area known as "Edgemere." The church purchased the property in 1946 when the city decided to move the municipal golf course. A year later a 3500-seat amphitheater was dedicated, and evening services were held "under the stars." It would be almost a decade before the church we see today was built.

The distinctive carillon tower at First Christian Church of OKCYou can see the Church of Tomorrow today (or most any day) at 36th Street and North Walker, just a block or so west of I-235, aka the Broadway Extension. Visit these links for more photos and background on this unusual Oklahoma landmark...
Thanks to Lynne Rostochil for providing the photos and scans you'll find at the above links. This material was more than helpful in writing this article. Lynne snaps some wonderful architectural photographs, and also happens to be R. Duane Conner's granddaughter!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Tulsa Survey Finds Plenty of History

Last December the results of the "Downtown Tulsa Intensive-Level Historic Resources Survey" were published. In plain English that means an inventory of Tulsa's downtown architecture.

Amanda DeCort shares a map of Tulsa as Sarah Lobos look on.The last such evaluation dates back to 1978, but this recent survey is much more exhaustive. Every building within the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL) was reviewed. Structures were evaluated for their architectural and historic value- as well as structural integrity. Why go to all this trouble? According to the Tulsa Preservation Commission...
The purpose of the survey project was to document all properties inside the IDL in order to identify which portions of downtown are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which would in turn make the properties eligible for Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit incentives.
The final document identifies 88 structures that merit acknowledgment for their historic status. It also lists fourteen districts that deserve recognition for their concentration of notable buildings. For us mid-mod fans who typically see our favorite buildings take a backseat to Tulsa's deco skyline, there is good news in this survey. After perusing the report I found several mentions of Tulsa's modern and recent-past architecture. Many of the buildings identified as Individually Eligible Resources (listed in Appendix A) were built in the Fifties and Sixties.

Historical Document
These documents are typically pretty dry reading, and this one is no exception. But it's also crammed with interesting tidbits of Tulsa history. In my opinion it's worth a look for anyone interested in Tulsa's origins or central business district. See for yourself- you can download the complete document here.

I'm going to review some of the structures on this list for future articles. For now I wanted to mention one of the highlights of the survey- an area identified as a historic district, that most people don't consider terribly historic.

Civic Center Historic District
Looking along the east facade of Tulsa's Assembly CenterOne of the most notable sections deals with the historic value of the oft-maligned central plaza of Tulsa's city and county government. The survey identifies this district as twelve square blocks between Denver and Houston Avenues. Recent attempts were made to entice development of the plaza as a "convention center hotel" complex. There were no takers. And even more disturbing was the assumption that any development would mean immediate destruction of the existing buildings.

The origins of this complex date back to a plan drafted in the Twenties. Again in 1943 a committee proposed a city-county-civic center and even suggested including a heliport! But it wasn't until the Fifties when things really got rolling. The first building completed was the courthouse in 1955.

The distinctive roof supports of the Civic Center building.But it would take several years and three public votes before the rest of the complex would be completed. The Assembly Center (now known as Convention Center), City Hall, City Council Chambers, Police Courts, Central Library buildings and the plaza itself were built over the next twenty years and designed by a group of local architects led by Robert Lawton Jones. This group approach explains the diversity of design one sees today- from the Assembly Center's Brutalism in raw concrete (above) to the flowing modernist lines of Central Library.

This type of development was common across America in the Sixties and Seventies. The large open plaza, along with "malling" Tulsa's Main Street, were products of Urban Renewal in action. Unfortunately, these attempts to create a relevant public space and retain the validity of downtown were in vain. Much larger forces were already working against any such effort. The draw of the suburban shopping mall had already captivated the American public, and no public building project was going to reverse it.

But historical relevance is not reserved for the successful. As Derek Lee, curator for the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, put it, "Whether you like the building(s) or not, they are a part of Tulsa's architectural history and we would lose a significant piece of history if the(se) building were demolished." I happen to like several of these buildings. Even if the complex as a whole is considered by many as a concrete Spruce Goose.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tulsa Treasures Not Half Bad

Try as they might, the organizers just couldn't get the management people to let us into the "modern block" buildings.

The endangered Tulsa National Bank autobank building.But a much larger than expected group of hardy building buffs showed up for TulsaNow's inaugural Tulsa Treasures Tour this morning. We counted more than 70 at one point, a hefty turnout considering the morning temperatures were in the twenties.

The four buildings on the tour included two Art Deco gems and two modern postwar buildings. Sarah Kobos emceed the tour with Rex Ball, who provided outstanding play-by-play highlights of each building on the tour- and a few others. Before we ventured out, Amanda DeCort from the Tulsa Preservation Commission, offered a brief summary of the recently completed Downtown Tulsa Architectural Survey.

Unfortunately we didn't get to go inside the two modern buildings, the First National Autobank (now labeled Chase) or the Ponca City Savings & Loan (last occupied by Smith Abstract). But we still enjoyed seeing them, and it's good to know that so many other Tulsans want to see them too. Both of these uninhabited structures are marvelous examples of Mid-Century Modern, and high on our endangered list. Look for more activity regarding this block of downtown in the coming year.

Architecture fans gather in the lobby of the ONG Building in downtown Tulsa.The buildings we did tour were the Oklahoma Natural Gas building and the ARCO Building, aka Service Pipeline Building. ONG is classic Art Deco from 1928, while the ARCO design is a very late example from 1949. Built the same year as Tulsa's first modern skyscraper, the First National Bank tower.

We've posted more photos from the event- Tulsa Treasures Tour.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mod New Orleans School Needs Help

I admit, New Orleans is a long way from Oklahoma. But this story struck me as important enough to share.


This 1954 school building is endangered and could easily become the latest victim of Hurricane Katrina. The Phyllis Wheatley School  featured an elevated design that provided a shaded recreation area under the building, not to mention protection from rising water. Today the building is looking pretty sad- but there is hope.

World Monuments Fund: Phyllis Wheatley School 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fascination with the Neon

El Rancho Grande is a local fixture here in Tulsa, having been in their current location on Old Route 66 since 1953. A few weeks back they decided to spruce up their vintage sign that hangs on front of the building. Last night we dropped in for a "lights on" ceremony as they fired it up for the first time.


The get-together was sponsored by Modern Tulsa and I was happily surprised by the attendance.

Muy bueno!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Letter from Dallas

or Everything's Bigger in Texas.

We recently visited Dallas for a few days of wining, dining and shopping. Our hideaway for this excursion, the Abby Brown Guest House, put us close to Knox-Henderson, Greenville and North Park Mall. Here's a few notes from the trip...

One of our first stops was Design Within Reach. As you can see they have a Texas-sized version of the classic adjustable desk lamp. I enjoyed a mod pit group while basking under the glow of the giant lamp. I also visited my favorite chair, the Eames LCW.

While we were at DWR we met David Goltl who showed us around the store, explained some of the finer points of modern furniture and printed off some maps of Mid-Century and modern neighborhoods in the Dallas area. This turned out to be wonderful information because...

..we soon found ourselves touring an area known simply as the "Disney Streets," because all the streets have names like Snow White or Peter Pan. This neighborhood was not only full of cool Fifties ranch houses, it's also the scene of some heated controversy over historic preservation. Wheee!

We were almost surprised to learn that in Dallas, the apparent birthplace of the Mc Mansion, there's any interest in preserving a recent past neighborhood. But to our delight there is an appreciation for these areas, and a desire to maintain their architectural integrity and appeal as a community. However, there appeared to be a vocal (well, there signs were plentiful anyway) movement working to put the kibosh on creating a "conservation district" in the Disney Streets area.

You can dig into the opposing viewpoints at the following sites:
Disney Streets of Midway Hills
Disney Street Say No

After we left Midway Hills and the Disney Streets we stumbled across the Preston Royal Branch Library. It was pretty well preserved but the interior has been ruined with a drop ceiling and scary giant light fixtures.

Not far up Royal Lane we hit the jackpot.. well, it was gold anyway.

We were actually just making a quick U-turn when we spotted this beauty. St. Luke's Episcopal Church looked like an annex from ORU with all the gold aluminum adorning its round sanctuary. The church was built in 1959 and the architect was Bill Hidell, a protege of George Dahl. We stopped in and snapped a slew of pictures we'll be sharing with you in the near future!

Afterward we drove by Bruce Goff's 1957 creation for Dallas businessman Eddie Parker, known locally as the Round House. The circular design is very reminiscent of the Frank House, not to mention the patented ceramic-over-glass window treatment! Oh, and it's on the market again if you're interested- asking price: $889,000.

Our next sortie moderne was to the Kessler Woods development near the Oak Cliff area.

Modern homes in the Kessler Woods area of DallasWe seem to keep discovering interesting places in this area southwest of downtown Dallas, just across the Trinity River. First it was the Belmont Hotel, then the Bishops Art District, and now this enclave of high-end contemporary homes being built by Sky Modern.

Then, to finish off our trip, we decided to explore modern design of a lower price point. On the way home we stopped by Ikea.

Our Map: Explore More of the Big D


Thursday, July 30, 2009

ORU Upgrades Not All Good

Love it or hate it, the architecture of Oral Roberts University is nothing if not unique.

Sky Town... otherwise known as ORUFor 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?

Construction at Oral Roberts UniversityI 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 spire. As one passer-by reminisced, "I always thought this is what heaven would be like."

The Prayer TowerBut earthly finances appear to have disrupted Oral's vision of heaven on Earth. The recessed garden oasis is currently being mowed under and filled with dirt. Crews are moving in ornamental rock to hide the angular concrete, lava rock and that ubiquitous anodized aluminum. Presumably the maintenance of a complicated system of ornamental fountains require people and money that ORU has deemed unnecessary. It's apparent that maintaining the unique look and feel is not a high priority.

ORU's space-age structures, designed by Tulsa architect Frank Wallace, have survived relatively intact for nearly 50 years. Today the campus maintains a kitsch appeal lost on most of the students who attend classes there. Hopefully it's not lost on the people who pay the bills.

Monday, June 22, 2009

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.
Recently added to the National RegisterLustron home in Stillwater, OK

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

Nice example located in Cushing, Oklahoma

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Church Blows its Top

Parkview Baptist Church is located on South Sheridan Road just north of 61st Street. Like many churches it grew in stages. The original sanctuary is a curly roof building from the Sixties (shown in the foreground of this photo). Later a larger sanctuary was built with a pyramid hip roof and a large wooden steeple.

But now that steeple is gone.

Yesterday I noticed workmen and a large crane were busily working on the distinctive box that adorned the rooftop. I was curious so I stopped and asked the pastor what all the fuss was about.

Turns out the structure had caused roof problems for many years. Each corner was a 16" beam and the elements had not been kind to them. Rot had eaten into the massive wooden uprights and allowed rain to get through to the sanctuary below. The congregation had decided to remove the steeple. I couldn't help but wonder if any consideration had been given to repairing it.

Looking up at the commotion I couldn't help but picture the steeple in a park or beside a shady pond. When I asked what they planned to do with it all I got was a blank stare. "Oh, they'll haul it off."

But the steeple refused to go quietly and put up a valiant fight. After an entire day workers finally attempted to lift off the massive wooden box. But the crane, which looked pretty darn big to me, wasn't up to the task. One worker told me when they removed the bolts the steeple dropped three inches.

I found myself rooting for the steeple. As if they might give up. All the workers might quit and the crane would go back to the rental company. Maybe the church would grudgingly decide to fix it since the damn thing was so much trouble to remove?

Alas, they finally sawed it in two and lifted off the top half late that night. The lower half was taken away the next morning.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oklahoma State Capitol Bank

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 2

State Capitol Bank"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!

Oklahoma City's Bank of the Future postcardOriginally 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 in the photo above. Arvest invested a fortune in the building, which would have surely been torn down if only the economics were considered.

Round elevator and a sofa all in one!Onlookers admire the round elevator (right) that whisks patrons downstairs to their safe deposit boxes- albeit very slowly. Avid readers might recall Jackie got a chance to "ride" downstairs during our visit to the bank back in February 2007. While the elevator is still operational, it's seldom used today. The control panel can be seen in the lower left of this photo.

Home, James.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

St. Luke's Methodist Church in OKC

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 1

Bell Tower of St Luke's in OKCSt Luke's United Methodist Church is located just north of downtown Oklahoma City at 15th and Robinson. The church sits at the edge of an area where low-rise commercial and brick apartment buildings give way to a residential neighborhood. A round chapel and unique bell tower command a dominating view of these nearby homes.

The striking lines and choice of materials offer clues to the building's age. But step inside and there's no doubt about it. The pendant lamps and marshmallow chairs confirm this is a Mid-Century Modern!

Mod church in Oklahoma CityTruett Coston was the principal architect and an active member of the church. Dedicated in 1956 the church has been well maintained, and additions or improvements have kept in step with the original design. Even the Fifties lighting in the lobby is still intact.

Entering the main lobby I was struck by the ORU-ness of the detailing. Maybe it's just a natural reaction I have to gold anodized aluminum? But my favorite details were the blue "swimming pool tiles" that are sparingly used throughout the building.

Futuristic 1956 sanctuary of St. Luke'sThe main sanctuary seats 1800 and takes full advantage of its circular container. Originally the choir was veiled behind a sheer fabric that must have given the whole place an ethereal feel. Looking up the ceiling first appears to be shag carpet- but looking closer it's actually some sort textured aggregate material. The immense stained glass windows, which are full figures from outside, show a totally different detail view from inside.

Welcome!
Overall the building was quite impressive. Not only is it aesthetically impressive- but the flow and efficiency rival anything built since. It was a treat to see such an excellent example of timeless design- especially one that is obviously so appreciated by its tenants.

Next stop: State Capitol Bank

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Free Mid-Century Modern Posters


Merry Christmas from Oklahoma Modern!

Here's a special mod and hip Christmas present for all you fans of Mid-Century buildings- compliments of Uncle Sam!

Modern-Era Building Posters from the General Services Administration

The General Services Administration (GSA) manages about a zillion square feet of our Nation's floorspace. Everything from courthouses to salt mines used for underground storage. Many of these government complexes were built in the postwar era. Minimalist and free of excess adornments, they appeal to a modern aesthetic. Most are not what your Average Joe would consider "purdy," but many are important examples of modern architectural design.

But the good news is the GSA got the memo! Beginning in 2000, primarily due to outrage over a planned renovation to Denver's Federal Building, the importance of Mid-Century Modern was made clearly evident. Since then the GSA has realized the historic importance of many of the federal buildings under their management.

Last October they were even recognized for publishing Growth, Efficiency and Modernism: GSA Buildings of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, a must-read for understanding the challenges of modernizing buildings from the recent past. This 120-page brochure is also a great tool for expanding the appreciation of postwar and mid-century architecture in general.
Oklahoma's entry in the free series of Modern Building Posters.This free series of eleven posters highlights modern federal buildings across the United States. Printed on heavy bond, each poster measures 24" x 36" and are oh-so suitable for framing. The following link offers details on each building and an email link to request your own copy of each poster (no order form is provided).

The series features dramatic photography of a notable feature of each building. Architectural styles in the series range from Formalist to Sixties Modern. Oklahoma's only building in the series is the Oklahoma City Federal Building and Courthouse (right) which was completed in 1961.

Most of the series can be downloaded in PDF format or ordered for no charge by contacting the GSA's Historic Buildings Program with your mailing address and which posters you want at the following link:

GSA Modern Era Buildings Poster Series

Chet Holifield Federal Building
The Chet Holifield Federal Building in
Laguna Niguel, California


So order your favorites today and enjoy your free Christmas gift. Best wishes to all of you and have a happy 2009!

Postscript.