AIA Central Oklahoma’s Design Excellence Awards program is held every other year and celebrates the best in architecture and urban design.  As part of this celebration we invite you to vote for your favorite project in each category.  Review the projects here and click on the at the bottom of the page to  VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS.  Voting will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on October 26th.  

Adaptive Reuse

Central Exchange | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography by: Eric Schmid

Central Exchange reinvents a pair of robust but derelict historic buildings in Oklahoma City—originally warehouse and garage for the Pioneer Telephone Company—into flexible space for restaurants, coffee shop, retail and office. To exploit their intrinsic character, the buildings are stripped back to their concrete frame and structural brick shells. On the warehouse building lightwells are cut into the floor slab, which, combined with large perimeter windows draw natural light deep into all four tenant floors. A new addition on the north denotes entrance while the expressed stairs connect the floors and stimulate chance interactions. A modern canopy extends from a new north addition providing cover while physically connecting the historically separated buildings. The new layout accommodates a pinwheel of activity arranged around a central promenade acting as both circulation and social core.

Social Capital | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography by: Eric Schmid

Located at the intersection of SW 5th and S Hudson Avenue, this former transmission shop occupies a prominent corner within Oklahoma City’s Core to Shore strategic framework. Its existing utilitarian structure, which has unobstructed views to Scissortail Park, is transformed into a community-focused craft beer hall. Dilapidated elements including the existing roof structure are removed while key elements are retained and refurbished in order to retain some of the historic character of a district identified for rapid change. The existing building is clearly organized with a new courtyard serving as the entrance to a multi-level complex offering maximum flexibility and activity along Hudson Avenue. The massing mediates in scale between the current structure and larger-scale developments proposed nearby, while a variety of spaces and seating types create a vibrant and engaging environment. The main bar is the interior focus while micro-kitchens create an active, family-friendly frontage easily accessible from the park. Outdoor amenities are provided by a courtyard, an exterior patio, and a roof terrace whose mirrored canopy soffit reflects the rooftop scene while capitalizing on views towards the park. Generous landscaping at the ground and upper levels ties inside to outside and unites the development with the park.

Light Language 42B | Rand Elliott Architects

Photography By: Scott McDonald, Gray City Studios

The project concept considers the relationship of a 1920s structure energized with LED lighting, raw surfaces, and the element of surprise.  Original concrete walls, a black wood lath ceiling, lacquered strand board floors, and custom 2” frosted acrylic blades combine to create texture and glow.  Simple, budget materials are used in natural ways to create a mysterious and contemplative atmosphere. The stair descends between original aged and cracked plaster walls and ceiling.  The raw steel plate stair has a steel bar stock handrail.  Original wood studs are infilled with mirror, reinforcing the position of the crawl space. The room is a 1,000 volume library. A space place for writing, reading, and an evening of music.  The centerpiece is a baby grand piano. The adjustable frosted acrylic blades provide infinitely changing light qualities – closed to open, dim to bright – think of light as a palpable atmosphere. Unexpected details include a glass floor that connects the level above, a sculptural toilet from Spain and a hidden pocket where the original boiler lives as sculpture. It is a space made of details.  Architecture is more than a room.  It is an experience.

Historic Preservation

2416-2422 N. Robinson Ave. OKC | Tom Spector, AIA, Architect

Photography By: Joseph Mills

The Uptown Building is the historic rehabilitation of a 1920s masonry mixed use building with 12 apartments upstairs and 5 commercial or live/work spaces down, in the Uptown 23rd commercial district  and the Jefferson Park historic district of OKC. The apartments have been remodeled for first time renters or anyone wishing to live without a lot of stuff and lightly on the environment with lots of built-in storage, fold-down bed frames, energy saving appliances, and a location within walking distance to dozens of restaurants, consumer businesses and entertainment venues. The Uptown resumes its place as the architectural anchor to the SE corner of Jefferson Park.

Marland Building – Edward Jones Office Renovation | MA+ Architecture

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The Marland Building in Ponca City, Oklahoma was met with excitement when it opened as a retail and office property in 1923. The earlier success of the Three Sands and Burbank oil fields meant major economic development in Northern Oklahoma and this new building provided much needed space for local businesses to thrive. Over the decades, the once beloved building fell into disrepair. Today, Jodi Cline is the proud owner of this historic landmark whose mission it is to restore the building to its original splendor. Cline’s Edward Jones office was located in the northeast corner of the 1923 Marland Building in Ponca City from 2004 until April of 2019. Cline purchased the 14,000 square foot Historic Marland Building in 2015 and quickly got to work on plans to renovate a 2,000 sf space on the southeast corner of the building. The boarded-up second floor contained 1930’s era clothing left on hangers, antique appliances, and loads of memorabilia. It took nearly two months to clear the space of debris and several repairs would need to take place before the Edward Jones team could officially move into the space.        

8th Street Church | ADG

Photography By: Emma Grace Anderson

At 7,500 square feet, the church building at 8th and Lee is small, but was built with care and craftsmanship. The church was originally dedicated in 1907 as Oklahoma City’s First German Methodist Church. It is an important historical site in Oklahoma City as it includes 22 Jacoby stained glass windows donated by Anton Classen—founder of Oklahoma City’s Heritage Hills neighborhood and the city’s first streetcar line—in memory of his mother. The goal for the renovation was to respect the historic heritage of the church while creating a functional and safe home for the new church congregation, a daughter church of Bethany First Nazarene Church. The re-enlivened church has been totally restored with new building systems, restrooms and custom circular steel chandeliers above the 200-seat sanctuary. Downstairs, the space has been reconfigured with childcare rooms, offices, a small kitchen and a large, flexible fellowship hall. Accessibility was improved with the addition of an at-grade entrance on the northeast corner near new parking, and an elevator. Lighting along the corridor linkage is via textured glass lamps discovered above the old drop-in ceiling. A belfry and steeple—exact replicas of the originals—are perfect finishing touches to this Midtown restoration.

Large Commercial Architecture

McKnight Center for the Performing Arts | Beck Design

Photography By: Tim Hursley

In 2009, Oklahoma State University conducted a feasibility study for future planning and programming of a new fine arts center– resulting in a showplace for the university’s prominent music and theatre programs.  The process began with an intensive planning effort with faculty and staff that uncovered the unique need of the OSU Department of Music, requiring an equally distinctive programming and design solution. It was important that design be seen from the client’s point-of-view and accommodate their current and future needs. The new 100,000-square foot music school—attached to the Performing Arts Center—will satisfy the current and future needs of OSU Department of Music with six rehearsal spaces, specifically sized for different ensemble arrangements with a variety of acoustic features; a 200-seat, “jewel” recital hall with the finest acoustic treatments and features; practice rooms; classrooms; a media lab; and teaching studios. The building design incorporates cutting-edge audio and visual technologies on display architecturally, while respecting the existing campus aesthetic.

Saint Francis Glenpool | Miller Architects

Photography By: Joseph Mills

Saint Francis Health System, as part of their efforts to expand quality healthcare throughout the Tulsa region, identified Glenpool, Oklahoma for their first Freestanding Emergency Department complete with Diagnostics and Primary Care services. The design challenge was to bring together materials from the newest tower addition at the main hospital and add strong pink features to highlight the Saint Francis brand, to create a dynamic, modern building that would make a strong impression in the growing suburban area. Design elements needed to work together at different scales as the site provides strong views of the building from three sides, including views from the elevated highway adjacent to the site. In addition, the design needed to work independently until the area and patient growth justified the planned future addition of an attached hospital patient tower. Saint Francis Glenpool is a bold design that features a 3-story glowing tower of custom pink glass protruding from the vertical circulation tower. Facing north, the ER Waiting and Outpatient lobbies are flooded with natural light from 2-story glass curtain wall that curves around the face of the building. A red metal panel cube anchors the public ER entrance for clear wayfinding. White stone panels wrap the first floor exterior while the second floor pink EIFS, as a nod to the pink stone wrapping the Saint Francis Hospital, offer clear direction to the building as seen from the state highway to the north or the interstate to the west.

The Monarch Office Building | Fitzsimmons Architects

Photography By: Justin Miers

The Monarch is a continuance of place-based, urban infill in Midtown from The Guardian Lofts on N. Robinson Avenue to Plaza Court on N. Walker Avenue. The 4-story glass, steel, and masonry office building responds to the City grid and surrounding building heights, creating a harmonious and human-scale pedestrian experience. Higher floors are stepped back on an orthogonal grid with expansive glass, giving pedestrians the feel of walking down a street lined with two-story buildings and creating a distinct presence within the growing skyline. The Monarch is in the center of OKC’s growing creative and high-tech community and part of Midtown’s connection to the Innovation District. It sets the tone and expectation for the quality of future ground-up infill development in the neighborhood. The Monarch leverages its location a half block from an OKC Streetcar stop and within walking distance of several restaurants and shops. The location is very walkable, bikeable, and drivable. Perhaps the most interesting challenge was inclusion of, and access to, a parking structure that does not detract from the streetscape, yet provides adequate parking for The Monarch, The Guardian, and the next pad site on Harvey Avenue. We took advantage of the site slope to slip in two levels of parking.

Donald Betz STEM Research and Learning Center | Rand Elliott Architects

Photography By: Scott McDonald, Gray City Studios

The Donald Betz STEM Research and Learning Center is a 53,000 SF facility that builds on established and growing programs within UCO’s College of Math & Science. The intent of the Center was to create dedicated space to foster connections between disciplines within the college. Every inch has been designed with collaboration in mind. Architecturally, we needed to capture the history of the campus, yet also make a statement about the future. The “Now and Then” concept creates two dualities – a connection to the historic campus on the west and a vision of today and the future on the east. Inside, bright reflective floors give way to high, open ceilings. An interior atrium slices through the building 36’ high and skylights fill the space with ever-changing reflective energy. In developing our concept, we envisioned science and math as an abstract puzzle, the layering of information, and “clues” hidden in plain sight. A “thread” appears through the building leading visitors by labs and classrooms. Each lab possesses a unique feature – interactive glass walls, encouraging students and faculty to peer inside. Ultimately, the Center was designed to offer the millennial student an experience that stimulates creative thinking and inspires innovation.

Oklahoma City Police Headquarters | ADG

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The Police Headquarters was built on the existing police parking lot located on the western edge of downtown Oklahoma City’s Civic Center. Sitting atop the three-story, 88,000-square-foot headquarters’ atrium lobby is a sloped metal diamond-shaped roof—or “hat”—that is an iconic identifier for the west downtown area. Blonde, black and red brick, as well as tan calcium silicate masonry units resembling limestone, clad the four quadrants of the building. The stonework reflects the Art Deco design elements of surrounding WPA-era buildings constructed in the 1930s. Though the new police headquarters is only 11% larger than the old headquarters, the program created much more efficient work areas―so efficient, in fact, that the Police Department claims they have 30% more work and collaboration space.

Small Commercial Architecture

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Renovation and Expansion | Beck Design

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation project was a $16M renovation and addition, completely funded by proceeds made from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, not by taxpayers. A new 12,000 SF addition was built; expanding the building to the west and north, introducing natural light to the interior of the building. Outdoor balconies were included to provide new vistas of downtown Oklahoma City and the State Capitol. The new addition houses offices, a conference room that cantilevers into the grand lobby, auditorium, front entrance and grand lobby with an elaborate wildlife diorama and interactive kiosks. This interactive element provided opportunities for conservation education for the next generation of hunters and anglers.

Frida | Fitzsimmons Architects

Photography By: Joseph Mills Photography

Named and inspired by the iconoclastic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Frida Southwest is a 5,000 sf restaurant featuring sunlit dining spaces connected to sheltered outdoor patios, integrated with a separate craft-cocktail bar and patio, known as The Daley. The design reverberates Frida’s life, whose work depicts her dreams and her pain within the context of Mexican culture and traditions. As a gateway to Oklahoma City’s bohemian Paseo District, Frida’s ubiety activates this once silent corner, addressing the curvilinear street with complementary arcade walls, organically transitioning from Walker Avenue to Paseo.  The facade harmonizes with the historic Spanish-style district, incorporating major elements of the Spanish Revival style by way of the featured stucco arcade creating the entry and outdoor dining spaces.  The arcade is broken by a rail that penetrates the facade, symbolically echoing Frida’s broken back expressed in her life and paintings.  Patinaed weathering steel walls and trellis balance the open arcade, highlighting the earthy and bright orange/brown rust undertones. Large clear windows illuminate the space with blue-colored glass, limited to artistic accents within the bar areas. Wood details provide warmth to the dining spaces with aesthetic accent tiles enhancing the energy within the space.

ReMerge | REES

Photography By: Mel Willis 

ReMerge is a comprehensive female diversion program designed to help pregnant women and mothers facing incarceration for non-violent crimes transform their lives. The building is centered around a large kitchen, open dining space, group therapy rooms, and tranquil garden. Rooms are focused around group bonding, such as the large kitchen used for healthy cooking courses, large group rooms for therapy, and open dining space for family meals. Office support spaces, private reflection areas and private counseling rooms are also included in the new building. Our designers created a welcoming entry and chose a soft, comforting color palette. The mix of blush, coral and blue balance with the outside views to create a healing environment. We chose commercial-quality furniture and finishes with residential comfort, further emphasizing the home-feel. An abundance of glass along the building’s exterior invites light and nature into the space. Original artwork from female, Oklahoman artists fuels inspiration, instills peace and leaves a sense of pride for the women and families who interact within the space. The new environment at ReMerge is the perfect foundation for transformation. ReMerge’s new facility allows the organization to serve 50% more mothers and families and provide room to work with community partners.

Positive Tomorrows | MA+ Architecture

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography 

Positive Tomorrows is Oklahoma’s only tuition-free elementary school and social service agency serving families experiencing homelessness. With roughly 1 in 10 students in the Oklahoma City Public School System facing homelessness, the services Positive Tomorrows provides to the community is vital to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Formerly housed in a church annex with limited space, Positive Tomorrows turned away nearly 100 students each year. They needed additional space if they were to serve more families. MA+ Architecture became involved with Positive Tomorrows in 2013 and with funding through a Building Success Campaign in 2017, began designing a new 42,000 SF facility that would triple capacity and extend the school’s student services to Early Head Start – 8th grade. The new space enhances the structure and stability Positive Tomorrows students and their families need through specialized learning spaces, upgraded safety and security measures, and additional Family Support areas.

Interior Architecture

BC Clark at Classen Curve | HSEarchitects

Photography By: Joseph Mills Photography

As a 120-year-old family-owned business, BC Clark Jewelers offers three locations in the Oklahoma City metro.  One of those locations has transitioned to the premier shopping district Classen Curve.  This project involves a 2-story 15,000 square foot space renovated to contextually fit within the existing architecture, while integrating features and details that enrich visual retail storytelling. Traditionally BC Clark stores have an inviting classical style that incorporates a lot of ornate wood, sculptural detailing, and an over-the-counter sales approach.  For this new location it felt more appropriate to modernize the retail experience, which complements the surrounding architecture.  The challenge was to infuse ideologies of an established brand identity with our vision to develop a new retail design narrative.  Having been inspired by modern jewelry design, we wanted to create a concept that integrated the soft elegance seen in a lot of necklaces, bracelets, and rings.  Our design intent was to capture that essence and reinterpret it into architectural features and custom fabrications. 

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Renovation and Expansion | Beck Design

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation project was a $16M renovation and addition, completely funded by proceeds made from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, not by taxpayers. A new 12,000 SF addition was built; expanding the building to the west and north, introducing natural light to the interior of the building. Outdoor balconies were included to provide new vistas of downtown Oklahoma City and the State Capitol. The new addition houses offices, a conference room that cantilevers into the grand lobby, auditorium, front entrance and grand lobby with an elaborate wildlife diorama and interactive kiosks. This interactive element provided opportunities for conservation education for the next generation of hunters and anglers.

Bar Cicchetti | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography By: Eric Schmid

Bar Cicchetti is a full-service restaurant and craft bar dedicated to offering a bold and fresh perspective on northern mediterranean flavors, with a communal, neighborhood appeal. The space previously housed a sports bar concept with a peculiar enclosed private dining mezzanine which divided the space and created vacuous double height volume. The key architectural strategy for Bar Cicchetti is to open the mezzanine completely to the first floor to maximize pooled energy. The space is designed to ensure patrons are comfortable in many types of engagements, whether it is during a business lunch, happy hour with and old friend or romantic dinner out with a loved one. Users are encouraged to choose their level of interaction within the restaurant dues to the variety of banquet, community, bar and soft seating groupings. The furniture is arranged to allow patrons to always be a part of the energy, but still have intimate moments to themselves. The honest pallet of natural materials like ground and polished concrete and warm white oak panelling reinforce the menu of simple but refined shared plates.

Flywheel | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography By: Eric Schmid

Flywheel is an interior office fit out for Flywheel Energy Management, on the third floor of the Heritage Building in downtown OKC. Key drivers for the project were openness and flexibility, to accommodate future growth and the evolution of the company. The office space has been designed around a central multifunctional space or ‘town square’, with workspace, meeting rooms and amenity surrounding it. This central hub is where the company holds monthly update meetings, break outs and social events. A large skylight has been introduced to the middle of the plan directly above the town square increasing the natural light and sense of space. Planting has been used throughout the project to help define spaces and break up portions of open plan.

Oso on Paseo | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography By: Timothy Soar

Oso on Paseo is the newest addition to the thriving arts community of the Paseo District in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Located at the main entrance to a popular mixed commercial complex, the new architectural pergola frames and activates the patio space with shade for pedestrians to enjoy year round. Designed with every square inch in mind, Oso has maximized its end use 5 times that of neighboring restaurants. Up close detailing and a walkable urban feel are essential to the design with visual connections to the Paseo from every seat. At night, Oso has become a beacon to the district. Large windows are filled to the brim with energy that spills out into the surrounding area. Inside the restaurant, the central bar is the main focus. Constructed out of white bricks, exposed core holes create a veil and add a play of light and depth to the bar. Oso’s material palette echoes the craft food concept with dark patinaed steel shelving, white-washed ceiling rafters, and handcrafted plywood details. Blue encaustic floor tiles line the bar area while the chosen color is repeated again in furniture and in the restrooms that feature blue-grouted tile.

“The Branch” OC Student Dining Facility | GSB, Inc. 

Photography By: Kerry Azzarello

This $4,800,000 addition and renovation project provides a purpose-built dining venue to replace a university ballroom used as a dining hall for over 25 years. The project includes an entirely new multi-venue servery, offering numerous made-to-order entrees at each meal, as well as stations for self-serve salads, desserts, beverages, breakfast foods and pre-made items. It also includes an entirely new dishwash area. The dining area includes a large, informal space with dramatic views, a private dining room, and a semi-private room. The dining facility expands the Gaylord Student Center, which was originally built in the 1950’s, and connects to the existing kitchen. The design responds to the building orientation to maximize natural daylight, while limiting solar heat gain. Large north and northwest facing storefront windows offer indirect light, while west facing windows are intentionally limited. The serving lines could not accommodate windows, so skylights were employed to introduce indirect natural daylight. Resilient finishes provide durability for high traffic, while offering an attractive appearance. A variety of seating options, with readily available power outlets, comfortably accommodates single students to groups of 12 or more for dining, study or socializing. Attractive and thoughtfully designed signage and graphics are placed throughout the facility.

Gun Izakaya | Fitzsimmons Architects

Photography By: Joseph Mills Photography

The character of Gun Izakaya was conceived as a glimpse of the experience one would have wandering the dense, pub studded, alleys of urban Japan. Located at a central intersection within Oklahoma City’s historic Paseo Arts District, an elevated entry deck dressed in dark curtains and battens speaks to medieval Japan and announces entry to the restaurant. Lighting within the space was kept intentionally sparse to create an intimate mood for dining while reserving bright wash lighting for a prominent mural visible to patrons throughout the restaurant. Dressed in dim light, two central structures within the space, one solid and one open, function as organizing bodies derived from In-Yo, the Japanese symbol of balance synonymous with Yin and Yang. Analogous positive and negative spaces converse as the bar, caged in dark stained wood battens, plays in tandem with the open grill defined by its exposed red vent hood offering patrons a full view of dishes undergoing preparation.

Ludivine Restaurant & Patio | Fitzsimmons Architects

Photography By: Justin Miers

The Ludivine project consisted of a new full-service restaurant & bar within an existing 3,300 square foot shell structure and an additional 1,085 square feet of outdoor patio space. The existing mid-century modern building was most recently occupied as office space, requiring zoning and building code change-of-use to an A-2 Assembly occupancy. Major construction and budget constraints and the desire to maintain the design integrity of the existing building directed design and material choices. On the exterior patio, an oversized expanded metal screen wall was powder-coated to emulate the gold anodized aluminum screen walls reminiscent of the MCM period. On the interior, off-the-shelf tile and parquet flooring mirrored similar finishes from the era. Hard ceilings were limited to the open chef’s kitchen and the bar area, providing a concealed space for ductwork while allowing the dining areas to feel more expansive. The desire for the bar to have its own identity dictated the provision of a separate entrance and dark material palette. A unique wall pattern was created from standard ogee trim profiles including casing, baseboard, chair rail, crown, and cove moldings, stained a dark hue.

MAP Room | hoffnerdesignstudio

Photography By: Joseph Mills Photography

Inside a Solomon Layton designed building known for its proximity to the Oklahoma City bombing, the project creates a “secret” meeting space, recalling the building’s origins as a Masonic Temple. The story is told with historic photos, a rugged material palette and Masonic symbols in the form of vintage tools.  Meet (level), Act (plumb bob), and Part (square) represent the sequence of a Masons meeting.  These dramatically lit vintage tools on a salvaged limestone backdrop beckon from the elevator lobby and lead you to a custom fabricated steel door unseen from the lobby. As you pull open the custom, leather-wrapped steel handle, you are likely unaware of the hidden door knocker built into the handle. However, if you are in the company of someone “in the know,” they can explain to you the significance of this, and the tools. Inside the room, shared by the building tenants, are custom designed tables and a movable “sofa cart;” suspended lighting; and comfortable leather seating specified for the project. The dramatic lighting; unexplained tools presented as art; the history of the Masonic Temple’s financial ruin and a dark, rich, natural color palette reinforce a feeling of being in a secret place.

Renegades | hoffnerdesignstudio

Photography By: Joseph Mills Photography

RENEGADES examines the radical pedagogy of Bruce Goff, chairman of the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture from 1947-55. In contrast to mainstream programs, Goff’s students created wildly organic projects. The exhibition’s experiential approach captures the “American School” spirit in a choreographed emotional journey for visitors. Visual cues attract and imply direction. Along a continuous path, spatial compression and release signal distinct curatorial sections. Within the main section, information is parsed among purpose-made “stations.” The recyclable exhibition materials evoke an architectural model, combining with the other design strategies to exemplify “American School” values of being contextual, experimental and resourceful. As of this writing, materials from the exhibition are being repurposed, by College of Architecture students, into a mobile heath center for indigenous people. Other attractions include a gallery featuring works by Goff’s students in their professional careers; a virtual reality station where users can experience unbuilt or demolished American School works; and a Play Architect section for the younger visitors, featuring fantastical site models, magnetic bricks, play figures and “client” profiles to inspire budding young architects.

HoganTaylor Corporate Office | REES

Photography By: Mel Willis

HoganTaylor saw the opportunity to align their workplace with their innovative and growing business model when relocating to Downtown Oklahoma City. The design team transformed a former car dealership into a leased office space for HoganTaylor, providing over 18,700 square feet of space for the organization. In their new space, employees may now choose from a variety of work environments according to their daily tasks, encouraging employee productivity and satisfaction. Designers understood the importance of the space to be inviting and functional for visits from clients. Select employees who have frequent or confidential client visits have closed offices to reduce noise in the open office. Each space holds its own unique furniture with a variety of colors and patterns to stimulate thinking and provide comfort. Many of the spaces blend residential comfort into a commercial setting to encourage collaboration and make the office feel more like home. Designers incorporated art from local artists throughout the space to be a reminder of the community values of the company. The balcony serves as an additional breakout space for employees and clients to relax, soaking in the atmosphere of vibrant Automobile Alley.

WGN America NewsNation | REES

Photography By: WGN America / Clickspring Design

WGN-TV had a vision of a news network that reported stories from an unbiased perspective. To support this goal, our team designed an interior finish-out of approximately 13,000 square feet of unfinished space at Nexstar’s WGN-TV facility. The new facilities accommodate and integrate both broadcast and workplace technology in ways that are functional, support efficient workflow and look great on-air. The office space has a variety of work areas, including focus rooms, collaborative spaces and a large conference room with a movable glass partition which opens for flexible meetings. Newsroom totems marked with each national area have digital screens and acoustical fins extend across the ceilings which absorb sound. The main office area has large windows, allowing in ample natural light. Our designers coordinated with set designers to create a cohesive newsroom and studio. Studio sets and graphics emphasize the perspective of the local communities where NewNation viewers live. Designers integrated warm tones, wood accents, and bright blue hues that capture the spirit of the Midwest. The design accommodates future growth in news production as NewsNation evolves and grows. WGN-TV NewsNation held their first broadcast in September 2020.

ImageNet Carrollton | Rand Elliott Architects

Photography By: Scott McDonald, Gray City Studios

The project inspiration is a belief that one can repurpose waste into art. The space is created as a series of experiences and exhibits that tells a story of how digital information technology can change our attitude about repurposing waste. The project artfully repurposes materials destined for the landfill – a cloud made of pre-owned filing cabinets, repurposed foam packing material used as a sculptural wall finish, glossy black bubble mailers repurposed as a wall finish and acoustical surface, and a celestial ceiling of recycled toner cartridges. The remodeled space provides the customer an office tour that exhibits and explains ImageNet company policies and processes and provides a powerful tool for client communication.  They not only hear who you are but they also see who you are.  ImageNet becomes more than a supplier – they become a partner in the pursuit of excellence.

OSU School of Architecture Gallery Walls | Rand Elliott Architects

Photography By: Rand Elliott, FAIA

Our client for this project was the OSU School of Architecture. Their desire was to upgrade the existing presentation gallery which was no longer functional for their current needs. A main concern was to leave the floor untouched as the tiles were no longer available. We wanted to illustrate to the students that seemingly boring problems can be transformed into a powerful architectural statement when solved creatively. To remain elevated off the floor, our solution was to attach a tube steel truss to existing columns and to cantilever off each end. To further emphasize that the wall does not touch the floor, an LED light (with integrated receptacles) was mounted on the bottom cord of the steel truss, creating the visual effect of a “floating wall.”  The white, back painted magnetic marker board was installed to be used for student presentations. The wall is writable, magnetic, cleanable and durable. From behind, the truss is infilled with recycled denim acoustic insulation that functions as a sound trap for the room. The result is that the white walls became light reflectors that adds new energy to the space.

Audio & Video Recording Studio Booker T. Washington HS | Daniel Butko, Architect collaborating w/ RBDG

Photography By: James Wilson

The recently completed high school audio and video recording studio and classroom is the result of collaboration among various organizations and individuals whose efforts provided a comfortable and accurate space for music education and production. Housed on the third floor of the existing building, the 1,160-sf facility opened its doors to students September 2019.  The project includes a dedicated audio & video recording studio, an adjacent visually and electronically connected classroom, and infrastructure for remotely capturing performances elsewhere in the building. The spaces were designed to record and live stream in-house productions, perform and record for scholarships and competitions, teach the recording process to a class of approximately 15 students, and develop podcasts. As stakeholders in the design process, the Advisory Board funded the project through a fund-raising campaign and educational grant for equipment. Shoehorned into an existing space, the design was executed through numerous precise details and meticulous attention to construction details, efficient MEP systems, and acoustical isolation. The arts and academic magnet school, located near the heart of a major U.S. city, serves 700 students in grades 9 through 12. For nearly 100 years, the high school has educated, cultivated, and sharpened multiple layers of talent.

Dermatology and Cosmetic Center of Oklahoma | The McKinney Partnership with Butzer Architects and Urbanism

Photography By: Tim Hursley 

A local dermatologist and her architect asked how this center for patient care can reflect an empathy for patients undergoing skin care and result in a design that fostered confidence and radiant health. An evidence-based design process led the team to consider scientific studies that assert fractals found in nature elicit positive responses by the brain. The team focused on the skin platelet as a form generator featuring hexagonal fractals. A measured approach was taken to situate hexagonal shapes within a color palette proven to elicit positive neurological responses. The Center’s organization is kept intentionally simple so patients may process the public/private zoning in tranquil fashion. Approached from the south, a light-filtered waiting room embraces the visitor and shrouds them amidst a palette of calming forms, colors, and materials. Vibrant blue hexagonal floor tiles, carpet, and upholstered furniture complement the rich natural browns of the abundant millwork. A wall plane of maple-framed amenities is punctuated with hexagonal internally- lit displays. An overhead canopy of darkened maple shelters the reception desk counter, defining a threshold for patient care beyond. Through a prescription of fractals, spatial transparency, colors, and materials, the Center proves that beauty is more than skin deep.

Residential Architecture

Forest Village Estates | Elliott Architects, Inc. 

Photography By: McNeese Stills + Motion

The mission was to provide non-stereo-typical tax credit funded affordable housing for Seniors to fulfill the unmet need for good quality senior housing in a neglected minority area of the City. The units were designed to provide aesthetically pleasing, functional and accessible dwellings where most residents could spend their day in dignity. The units are designed and constructed to afford residents the same local energy conscious lifestyle as market rate housing developments and comply with current tax credit guidelines and adopted Energy Conservation Code. A modest size Common Building entices community gathering and activities for the 34 dwelling unit neighborhood.

The Bower | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography By: Eric Schmid

The Bower introduces a unique mix of condominiums and townhomes, across two distinct volumes, in the rapidly developing downtown area of Oklahoma City. Responding to the surrounding context, the two-story townhome block on 4th Street, steps back to the five-story condominium building to the rear of the site. The seven townhomes have recessed entrances, breaking up the extended street frontage and creating balconies above. The main pedestrian entry to the site is carved through the 4th street block, leading to parking facilities and the condominium lobby. The condominium block offers a range of dwellings from one to three-bedroom ‘for-sale’ condominiums. The cascading balconies provide outside amenity for each residence, and creates external rooms, each with views across downtown. New landscaping along 4th street, the alley to the north, and the primary pedestrian paths, help to unite the buildings and site.

Cumberland Court | Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Photography By: Timothy Soar

This private home for a family of four in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma, is located within a residential community that has detailed design guidance for permitted development. Accordingly, the gabled exterior is nominally in the ‘Tudor Revival style’, but it conceals a contrastingly modern interior. The white brick plays on the traditional forms with projecting, screening and recessed texture that serves as a unifying language throughout. The rooms of the house are arrayed around exterior courtyards, each approached differently to accommodate varying uses, and connected through large glazed windows and doors. This allows for the removal of the traditional barriers to the outside and extends the livable area.

The Arc | Alan Moring, AIA

Photography By: Mel Willis

This is a tree house and a hideout. One mile east of campus, our home is perched on the banks of Bishop Creek, nestled in the trees away from the street. The design is very open. The only interior doors are for the two toilet rooms. Those rooms are also the only ones that have partitions that extend to the ceiling. I prioritize quality of materials and design over size or grandeur. It is unlike anything built in Oklahoma.  Modern aesthetics wrap a warm interior with abundant natural light and warm material. 

Oakley Residence | GSB, Inc.

Photography By: Simon Hurst

The client, an active couple with a love of the outdoors and an eclectic taste in décor and art, wanted a contemporary home that did not look ultra-modern. They desired an exterior that utilizes traditional materials and an interior with an open design and plenty of interesting daylight-filled spaces. The site is a modest tapered lot. To maximize the ground level buildable area for living space, the two gable roof masses were placed against the side setback lines, creating a dynamic, tapered central circulation space through the house. Accommodating the client as they age was vital. The two-story design accomplishes that goal with a downstairs master suite, energy efficient materials, technologically advanced building systems, and glass pneumatic elevator. Mahogany wood custom front door and wood rainscreen siding provide natural beauty with minimal maintenance. Ashlar cut limestone, earth tone stucco, exposed steel lintels, and slate roofing comprise the exterior. Reclaimed barn beams and exposed steel make up interior features and the entry stair. The covered back porch is an extension of the main living space via a wall of sliding doors. Two upper decks are provided outside each of the home offices, so the residents are never far from accessing the outdoors.

La Niña | Butzer Architects and Urbanism

Photography By: Tim Hursley

La Niña is a multi-generational family home, named after Columbus’s three-masted and favorite ship which helped connect continents and frame views of distant shores. Three gabled volumes, arranged along two north-south ridgelines, descend in formation through the narrow site towards the Lake Texoma edge. Bridging them is a wood-lined outdoor breezeway whose length matches that of La Niña. Here, family safely convenes amidst the pandemic to enjoy framed lake views and fresh cooling breezes. The client’s family social patterns informed La Niña’s parti. A switchback stair anchors the north end of a two-story interior datum from which the family room and master bedroom capture lake views to the south. This datum facilitates natural ventilation and invites eastwards engagement of the adjacent spaces. This architectural language of this gabled fleet is driven by framed views and site textures. Cedar shakes form the stretched and shedding skin of the home, allowing few smaller perimeter penetrations. Towering hearths are the moorings that gather family around warm fires. Ocular moments are carved through the poche to connect each space to the lake, landscape, and sky. Like its namesake, this residence serves as a vessel that gathers its family for discovery at the water’s edge.


Oklahoma State Capitol Visitor’s Entrance | FSB Architects & Engineers

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The transforming of the State Capitol’s lower level into the primary public entrance brings a long-range vision to life and addresses the goals and objectives of security, accessibility, improved flow and aesthetics, and an overall positive visitor experience. The exterior plaza includes limestone and granite detailing, offering a park-like feel with terraced seating where visitors and students can gather, learn and have lunch outside. Great care was taken to keep the mature elm and oak trees as well as to integrate the landscape with the exterior design. The new lobby is a grand and appropriate entry to Oklahoma’s most significant cultural building. Upon entering through the glass roof vestibule, guests are met with an Oklahoma state map inlayed in the floor with each county cut out of marble like a puzzle. Illuminated by skylight, the new entrance allows a view of the historic building at the point of transition between the new and old. Continuing through the interior, visitors check in via an updated security area with new equipment and faster processes to shorten lines. Greeted by The Guardian statue and guided by an information station, visitors can browse historic displays located within the waiting area.

OK Army National Guard Ardmore Readiness Center | GSB, Inc.

Photography By: Simon Hurst Photography

The Oklahoma Army National Guard Ardmore Readiness Center is a new 82,000 SF National Guard administration, training and staging facility. The Oklahoma Military Department wanted a building that departed from previous readiness center designs, which were reminiscent of WPA-era municipal armories. This design was conceived as a modern interpretation of the classic fort of the western frontier, reflective of the changing face of the modern, hi-tech military. The building and site were designed with sustainable materials, systems and features, enabling the project to achieve LEED Gold Certification. The building’s intense usage demands necessitated highly durable, easily maintained and resilient materials and finishes, while DOD Anti-Terrorism Standards dictated robust construction and strategic security measures. Highlights of the government facility include: Secure, durable, low-maintenance design; Allows for flexibility in anticipation of future changes; Office and educational spaces; Assembly Hall, Training Areas, and Heated & Unheated Storage; Parking for nearly 500 military & personal vehicles.

Oklahoma State Capitol Exterior Renovation | ADG

Photography By: Emma Grace Anderson

The Oklahoma State Capitol had begun to fail. The limestone façade was crumbling. Experts convinced the legislature that without intervention the building completed in 1917 would not last another 100 years. The goal for the rehabilitation of the exterior of the historic building affords better protection for visitors and occupants, preserving the building’s historic character and preparing it to accommodate modern needs for generations. The work was designed and phased to allow the Capitol to remain occupied throughout construction. The Capitol is once again its own work of art that will ensure the pride of generations of Oklahomans. Experts investigated the condition of the limestone, granite, mortar, windows and cast iron in order to devise a strategy to properly address building conditions. Various methods to address building conditions were tested. Restoration activities on the exterior proceeded over the course of the next three years. Results are dramatic. 477 original windows were restored. 21 miles of mortar joints were re-pointed. 200,000 square feet of original stone was subjected to a three-step cleaning process. Over 4,600 repairs were made to damaged stone blocks. The historic steel pocket doors at the front of the capitol were restored and the copper roof was replaced.

Scissortail Park Cafe | Butzer Architects and Urbanism

Photography By: Tim Hursley

The architecture and landscape architecture of Scissortail Park take their inspiration from the pre- historic and contemporary landscapes leading up to the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run. Native grasses, plants, and trees present in the landscapes of the 1880’s are reintroduced along water features and around land formations that evoke the cuestas of the Pre-Cambrian Arbuckle Mountains in southern Oklahoma. The tectonics of the architecture are inspired by the frames and hides used in Plains Tribes’ shelters and serve as a form of “Land Acknowledgment” that recognize this park is built on Native American lands. Steel, wood, and glass become the material palette for this skeleton/skin dialectic. Earthen structures of early Western settlers are the historical source for the brick that rises up to meet the lightweight canopies. The brick colors and patterns evoke the coyote, gray wolf, and deer, and help camouflage the park architecture amidst the regionally inspired landscape. The 360-degree organizations of Scissortail Park Café and its fellow park pavilions engage people from diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, and all directions. As their z-axis, the red lantern of Scissortail Park Café anchors both the memory of that fateful night in 1889, and today’s hope for this reemerging multicultural community.

Urban Design

Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma Camp Trivera | REES       

Photography By: Mel Willis

Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma’s Camp Trivera is set on 17 acres in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, across the lake from the Oklahoma City Zoo. A two–story lodge provides offices, flexible 350-seat event space, a STEM room, a trading post, a covered porch and three fireplaces. Bunk-style rooms and comfortable community living areas are found on the second floor. The Scouts dreamed up bunkroom themes, from caverns to whimsical forests, which were brought to life with custom-made wall coverings. Outdoors, you will find a campfire and amphitheater, pool, three treehouses, two campsites, zipline, walking trails and kayaking access to Northeast Lake. STEM features are abundant. For example, the pool is 10 feet deep, so the girls can work with underwater robots. A pulley system helps campers bring their luggage up to the bunk rooms. As scouts climb up the rock wall, labels point out different layers of rock in the earth’s surface. Exterior bricks were layered with a geology lesson in mind. Camp Trivera is one of eight STEM Centers­ of Excellence within the Girls Scouts of the U.S.’s system and will help put 2.5 million girls into the STEM workforce by 2025.

Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center | Rand Elliott Architects

Photography By: Scott McDonald, Gray City Studios

Oklahoma Contemporary’s new downtown campus stands as a sculptural expression of the nonprofit’s mission to provide accessible, inclusive arts experiences. The 53,916 square-foot, four-story building, “Folding Light,” anchors the 4.6-acre campus which includes a renovated 1910 historic warehouse and a three-block arts park. The unique exterior shell is constructed from recycled bright-dipped aluminum, resulting in an ethereal facade designed to capture the state’s ever-changing weather conditions, reflecting, and embracing the dramatic changes in light and sky that characterize the local landscape.

Master Planning

Villa Teresa Master Plan | Fitzsimmons Architects

Photography By: Encompass Media, LLC

Villa Teresa school was founded in 1933 by the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese in a private residence next to their convent. The campus grew to include more surrounding homes, the oldest dating back to 1917. The only school in downtown for decades, Villa Teresa had many wonderful years until the upkeep became too much of a burden for the sisters. After eighty years of life, Villa Teresa sat vacant. In 2017, local developers purchased the property, committed to bestowing new life into the historic grounds. The phase one residential addition to the grounds conserves Villa’s iconic character. Pitched silhouettes, meticulous masonry, and metal work honor the institutional namesake’s beloved architecture. Phase two includes a thoughtful historic renovation of the existing buildings on the site. The convent and adjacent school buildings will become a boutique hotel. Additions on the grounds will include amenities such as a pool and cabana, a restaurant pavilion, and a long-term stay facility. Villa’s revival establishes a foundation for a new neighborhood—a transitional community, connecting historic housing to the north with the burgeoning city core to the south. The concept marries the classic with the contemporary, prioritizing the preservation, renovation, and repurposing of the celebrated property.

The Carlisle Indian School Project | New Fire Native Design Group

Image By: New Fire Native Design Group

Opened in 1879 in Pennsylvania, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was the first government-run boarding school for Native Americans. This project envisions a permanent place to honor the legacy of the thousands of Native children from more than 140 tribes who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School during its 39 years of operation. Visitors will be immersed in the students’ stories, be able to tour the School grounds and learn about the extraordinary influence Carlisle students have had in the areas of athletics, art, music, military and more. Visitors will also uncover the full story, both good and bad, of the Indian boarding school era and its impact on generations of Native peoples. The walkable 80-acre site will include both recreational and educational opportunities featuring a museum and heritage center, a traditional demonstration village, a hall of fame, dance grounds, a hotel and convention center, restaurants and retail space. The heritage center will be where visitors, native and non-native alike, can learn about Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the stories of its students and experience healing and understanding of the boarding school system.