The Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects holds Architecture Week every year about this time, and on Saturday of that week comes the Tour, wherein several recent projects by members are opened to the public. This is something I do not miss if I can help it, and at noon today, we were heading down to Norman for the first stop.
1) 530 Eufaula Street, Norman
Just outside downtown Norman — barely two blocks off West Main, in fact — this space used to be occupied by an indifferent duplex. The new place, not quite so large, has a series of garden walls which conceal a couple of dinosaurs (!) and allow for garden and/or courtyard views from nearly every room. (This picture was shot over the west wall.) The interior proportions were, to my thinking, just about perfect, and I said so to one of the owners. This part of Norman, except for the inevitable traffic, retains its small-town feel, which is a neat trick in a city of 110,000.
2) 204 North Robinson, 32nd Floor
Back in 2008, I mentioned that this old skyscraper — it’s just now turning 80 — was being refurbed, and the top floors were being turned into high-rise residences. The top two floors, in fact, were turned into one residence, about 5000 square feet, with a price tag in the general vicinity of $3 million. I figure $1 million of this was for the view, which is pretty much unparalleled anywhere else in town. The amenities are commensurate with the price tag, but there are unexpected bonuses from its bank-building days: the old drive-in is now the parking garage, and the vault has been converted to local storage. It was about this time that Trini started making noises about buying more lottery tickets.
3) 811 North Broadway
Packard, the motor car, passed from the scene in 1958. This particular building along Automobile Alley has had several uses since then, though always pretty much the same front. Last time I was there, it was the gallery of Individual Artists of Oklahoma, which has since moved to Film Row; it’s now the home of Accel Financial Staffing, owned by Meg Salyer. Office space in general I tend to judge by how closely it resembles Cubicle Hell. This one scores no points for devilishness. (And yes, that’s the same Meg Salyer who represents Ward 6 on City Council.)
3.5) 815 North Hudson Avenue
This technically wasn’t a Tour stop, but Elemental Coffee Roasters, which supplies several eateries in town, is opening its own coffeehouse at this location, and they offered a free sample to any Tour participant. I passed — damn diuretics — but Trini was delighted with her latte.
4) 825 Northwest 7th Street
I first visited the so-called Oklahoma Case Study House in November ’09 and took this shot. At the time, it seemed utterly out of place on its little hillock just west of Midtown, but it fascinated me just the same. It was not quite complete for the 2010 Tour; now that it’s done, it still seems like a work in progress. Architect Brian Fitzsimmons has plenty of photos to show you.
5) 834 Northwest 7th Street
Across the street and down one, this house in its larval stage was on the 2008 Tour; the photo dates from the fall of ’09. Architect Dennis Wells lives in this nifty concrete box, which sits on a small 50 x 70 lot. (The structure itself is a modest 40 x 40.) The living quarters are upstairs; there’s a guest suite downstairs. (“I want a guest suite,” said Trini.) The house sits about halfway between the Case Study House and the OKasian House at 719 North Francis, seen on the 2007 Tour. Wells’ own rendering looks something like this.
6) 5900 Mosteller Drive
If you just adore a penthouse view but aren’t inclined to buy downtown, this is the suburban choice, off May and Northwest Distressway. The old United Founders tower, once home to a now-deceased insurance company, has gone residential, as mentioned here in 2007. The advantage here is that almost every room has a view and full-height glass to maximize it. We saw a couple of single-bedroom units, which were a bit out of our price range, and a pair of two-bedroom units, which were more so. (See their Web site for floor plans.)
7) 7720 North Robinson Avenue
Design Resources has been doing window treatments for the trade for the better part of 60 years; they took over an old bulk warehouse in the Broadway Business Park, and Randy Floyd revised it into showroom, offices, and workroom. (We peeked into the samples area and were dazzled by the sheer variety.) No trace of Cubicle Hell here, either.
(Previous Tour reports: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. Photo credits: #2 courtesy of AIACOC; #3 courtesy of Waymark; #6 courtesy of Founders Tower; others by me.)