Gold Dome Bank Honored

The Gold Dome Bank in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, winner of the 2007 Board of Advisors Award.Last month the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented their 2007 Board of Advisors Award to the Gold Dome Bank in Oklahoma City.

When plans were announced to demolish this iconic structure, local preservationists launched a spirited, grassroots campaign to save this Buckminster Fuller-inspired geodesic dome. Now, it’s a thriving mixed-use center that anchors the city’s newly designated Asian District.
> full press release

I remember seeing this building as a child from the back seat of our Ford Galaxie 500. That entire area around 23rd and Classen always fascinated me— the Townley's Milk Bottle, The Price Tower-esque office building and the brick storefronts lining Route 66. When the word got out that Walgreens planned to demolish the Gold Dome Bank I was working for About.com as their guide for Tulsa. I immediately began typing a feature about the volunteer effort to save this 1958 aluminum-clad beauty. It's inspiring to see those efforts paid off!

Modern Homes: Concrete Turret of Sand Springs

One of the wackiest homes around Tulsa is this gem. It's located just east of Sand Springs off Edison. Now that the trees are losing their leaves you can catch a glimpse of it when traveling westbound on US-412. Look to the north as you approach the 65th Street exit.

The house is situated on a hill with the garage underneath. The circular drive you see in the photo leads to the front entrance– and a rustic-style door that seems quite out of place on such an avant garde structure.

Lustron: The Power of Steel

Another early memory of mine is the "green and yellow house on Harvard." I remember my Dad mentioning they had looked at this model home when shopping for their first house. At the time I didn't realize it, but that model home was a Lustron. It's still there if you drive up Harvard Avenue north of Pine Street.

Lustrons were pre-fabricated homes made of porcelainized steel– very similar to gas stations in the Sixties. The kit was delivered by truck and the house was assembled on-site. The rugged metal panels never needed painting, which was a popular feature in more rugged climates up north. They never really caught on, especially in this part of the country.

The idea was so emblematic of the period following World War Two. In an era when people seriously believed there would soon be a helicopter in every driveway, it wasn't so far fetched to consider buying these metal houses. But like so many ideas of the postwar era, it was too far ahead of its time. Only now are we seeing serious attempts at high-quality prefab housing.

There are only two Lustrons I know of in Oklahoma. The one near my childhood neighborhood in north Tulsa (above) and one in Bartlesville (right).

For an online register and map of Lustrons near you visit the Lustron Locator Map.

International Airport: international design

The original TIA terminal from a 1960s postcardWhat better place to start? The origin point of so many adventures was burned into my memory at an early age.
Tulsa International Airport.

Since my father worked for American Airlines we enjoyed the luxury of air travel back in the pre-deregulation days when it was out of reach of most Americans. This plus the fact we had relatives living in California (as do most Oklahomans, ala Grapes of Wrath) meant we flew west almost every Summer.

Each of those trips began with a cab ride to Tulsa International Airport. As the sun rose we would pull up to the glass and steel terminal with the smell of jet fuel wafting through the morning air.

Control Tower at Tulsa International AirportThose early memories from the Sixties still inspire me to this day. The glass walls of the terminal. The airport's control tower (right). Even the original Boeing 707 tail fin.

I didn't know it at the time, but the clean lines and no-frills look are known as International Style. The architects, Murray Jones Murray, received numerous awards for the design of Tulsa International. Today additions have obscured the simplicity of the original building and few people appreciate it. Then or now.

I think I liked it because it looked like something I'd made with my Super City building set.

Mo' Modern Links

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Mo' Modern Links

TFA Virtual Tours Highlight Modernism

Architecture tours are a big deal at the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. But the pandemic has put a damper on Second Saturdays, the popu...

Modern Choices