Discovering Local Architecture
Now that summer is over and school is back in full swing, kids have less free time — and more homework than they did even one short month ago. But, outdoor fun doesn’t have to end just because school work has begun and the weather cooled off. Take a 5-20 minute break from your day. It’s time to enjoy the weather outside, while discovering something architecturally different. Here is a list of a few places I suggest checking out.
Stage Center - 400 W. Sheridan
Completed in 1970, this eccentric masterpiece has no obvious facades. Rather, it is made up of three major components connected by tubes and tunnels. Ramps, bridges, and ductwork at various levels, as well as the "boxes" for mechanical systems atop the structures, and the brightly colored painted steel have evoked terms like "Tinker Toy geometry" or "erector set" construction from the building's critics. Still, this original work was recognized in 1972 with a national award from AIA and it is often cited as John M. Johansen's major work. In 1983, Stage Center, then the Oklahoma Theater Center, was recognized as one of the Ten Best Buildings in Oklahoma by the Oklahoma chapter of AIA. In 1986 the Arts Council of Oklahoma City purchased the building, which it agreed to renovate and reopen as a theater. It houses two theaters (a 580 seat thrust stage theater and a theater in the round). The smallest of the three units serves as a cabaret, offices, and rehearsal space.
Gold Dome - 1112 NW 23rd Street
In 1958, the Citizens State Bank began construction. The Gold Dome building was the fifth geodesic dome constructed in the world; however, it was the first to be used as a bank. It was described as “one of the nation’s most revolutionary bank designs.” The geodesic dome design is patented by the famous futurist and architect, Buckminster Fuller. The architects for the Citizens State Bank were Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson, and Roloff of Oklahoma City. The dome is constructed of 625 panels, 60 – 70 pounds in weight each, and spanning a diameter of 145 feet. The interior covers about 27,000 square feet. Once threatened with demolition, this one of the last surviving examples of a geodesic dome.
Outlying OKC Metro
Bavinger House - 730 60th Ave N.E. Norman
The Bavinger House is a unique structure of glass, stone and 200 tons of ironstone, was designed by Bruce Goff and built by Eugene Bavinger in the early 1950s. The house is constructed in a spiraling floor plan with unconventional features like circular rooms, an indoor stream that once housed live fish, and a bridge connecting outdoors. Stairs and living areas are suspended from a single column running through the middle of the structure and an art studio on the fourth floor.
Guthrie Historic District - 14th St./College Ave. Guthrie
Guthrie was the territorial and later the first state capital for Oklahoma. Guthrie is nationally significant because of its outstanding collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century commercial and Victorian architecture. The Guthrie Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The district includes buildings separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including:
- Carnegie Library
- Co-operative Publishing Company Building
- Logan County Courthouse
- Guthrie Armory
- Guthrie Historic District
- Scottish Rite Temple
- St. Joseph Convent and Academy
Bank of Oklahoma Tower One Williams Center
At 667 ft in height, the 52-story tower is currently the tallest building in any of the five Plains States. It was built in 1975 and designed by Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, the same architect who designed the World Trade Center in New York. This structure is very similar to the WTC towers in appearance and construction.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church - 1301 South Boston Avenue
Completed in 1929, the Boston Avenue United Methodist Church is considered to be one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture in the United States and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
The design of the US$1.25 million edifice is credited to two individuals: Adah Robinson and Bruce Goff. Robinson was an art teacher at Central High School in Tulsa, and eventually was chair of the art department in the University of Tulsa. Robinson sketched the original ideas for the church. Bruce Goff, formerly one of her high school students, and the architect in 1924-1926 of her home and studio, then took the sketches and came up with the design for the church. Officially, the architecture firm credited is Rush, Endacott and Rush where Goff apprenticed (from age 12 and became a partner in 1930). There is still some debate over who was more responsible for the building. The church credits Adah Robinson with the design of this building, while Goff experts maintain that it is clearly his design.
Price Tower - 510 S Dewey Ave
This 221 foot high tower was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only realized skyscraper by Wright, and is one of only two vertically-oriented Wright structures (the other is the S.C. Johnson Wax Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin).
The Price Tower was commissioned by Harold C. Price of the H. C. Price Company, a local oil pipeline and chemical firm. It opened to the public in February 1956.The skyscraper was not a form congenial to Wright who thought of his work in natural terms. But using the metaphor of the tree, Wright could create a vertical structure, in this case with the service core as the trunk and the floors cantilevered from it, like branches.
Frank Phillips Home - 1107 Cherokee Avenue
Completed in 1909, this home served Frank Phillips until his death in 1950. The 26 room Neo-Classical mansion was remodeled twice (the last time in 1930). After 1930, neither the Phillips nor their granddaughter, who donated the home to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1973, made significant changes to the interior. Thus, with few exceptions, the furniture, decorations and even personal effects are original. As an example of the personal home of an Oklahoma oil millionaire, it is a window through which you can step back to those times, and experience the home life of one of America's oil men.