In Case You Missed the AIA Chit Chat…

by Lynne Rostochil

Last night, I participated in the AIA Chit Chat that was organized as part of Architecture Week.  Each speaker had 20 seconds to speak about each of 20 slides, and if you know me and how chatty I am, you know that was a big challenge!  For those who missed this fun event, I thought I’d put the chit chat on the blog for all to see.


Neptune Subs


Neptune Subs NW Classen OKC

This was originally a Quick’s Hamburgers and was owned by David Wilson, who also owned the Charcoal Oven on NW Hwy.  Jack L. Scott designed the Googie-style building that has been home to Neptune Subs since 1973.


Prairie Chicken House


prairie chicken house herb greene julius shulman photo

When Julius Shulman returned to New York City from this shoot, Life magazine editors scoffed and claimed that was no good architecture in Oklahoma.  Shulman proved them wrong when he showed them his slides of Herb Greene’s unique house.  They were so impressed that they demanded that the photos appear in the next issue.


Baptist Memorial Hospital


Baptist Hospital

Originally, Baptist Hospital was to be built on 10 acres of land at NW 30th and Villa donated by the Shepherd sisters.  But it soon became apparent that 10 acres was woefully insufficient for a big hospital, and the site was rejected.  The Copperfield Apartment complex is there now.


First Christian Church


First Christian Church

Architect Duane Conner put his career on the line with his design for the dome.  Many people thought the unsupported thin-shell structure would collapse and poo-pooed the design but after it was built, testing showed that it could easily handle the weight distribution and it still stands proudly today.


St. Luke’s United Methodist Church


st. luke's stained glass bird

st. luke's stained glass jesus

St. Luke’s and First Christian were built at the same time, but St. Luke’s had a much larger budget to work with and it shows in the stained glass windows designed by famed artist, Robert Harmon of Frei Art Glass.  Truett Coston was the architect for the church.


Zuhdi House


zuhdi house exterior

If you grew up here in the ‘80s, you probably heard about the funky haunted house north of town. And if you were especially brave, you dared to venture to the site looking for reputed ghosts and ghouls.  In reality, what you were probably hunting was the order of nuns that lived here during the time.  The home was designed by Robert Roloff.


Plaza Tower Hotel


Plaza Tower Hotel

Speaking of daring teenagers, in the ‘60s one of “the things” to do was to sneak into the triangular pool at the Roloff-designed Plaza Tower Hotel and go for a midnight swim.  Indeed, many parents were called to the police station in the middle of the night to pick up their soaking wet kids.


Keso Clinic



This beautiful building on NW 50th was the seventh design architect Bill Halley submitted to his very exacting client, Dr. Keso.  Dr. Keso must have been very pleased with this final design, though, because he’s been practicing orthodontics the space for nearly 50 years now.


Bavinger House


bavinger main

One very unfortunate architecture student has a lifelong reminder of building Bruce Goff’s Bavinger House.  One day, he was laying rock for the exterior wall when one of the rocks slipped and crushed his finger.  The poor man had to have the appendage amputated.  I hope he got an A in all of his architecture classes after that.


Downtown YMCA


mike brown - YMCA - b&w - sorey hill sorey

Many an aging Metro resident recalls learning how to swim at the beautiful downtown YMCA in the ‘50s and ‘60s — totally bare assed naked!  Somehow, I don’t think that would go over very well today.  Designed by Sorey-Hill-Sorey, the site is now a parking lot.


Terrazzo Mural

Northwest Shopping Village


 terrazzo mural oklahoma 1957

When I first spied this terrazzo surprise, the edges were peeking around a dingy welcome mat that looked like it had been there forever.  I pulled back the mat and found this beauty in fantastic condition, and I’ve been trying to find out who the artist is ever since.  Any ideas?


Basic Materials House



Duane Conner designed this house as part of the Living for Young Homemakers magazine’s Living House program, which asked architects to use new materials and techniques to create affordable home designs.  Conner was chosen to work with concrete after his success with the material at the First Christian Church.


Citizens State Bank (Gold Dome)


Citizens State Bank (Gold Dome)

The Citizens State Bank was the first “suburban” bank when it opened at NW 23rd and Dewey in 1948.  After two expansions couldn’t keep up with demand, Robert Roloff was hired to design a modern bank where the Jefferson School was located.  The result was our iconic Gold Dome.


State Capitol Bank


state capitol bank robert roloff julius shulman photo

A few years later when Leland Gourley decided to build his State Capitol Bank, he also hired Roloff and asked him to design a “bank of the future” that would make the Gold Dome look old fashioned and boring.  Gourley certainly got his wish with this Googie design that’s straight out of a Jetson’s cartoon.


Mac’s Sign Shop

circa 1964

mac's sign shop then

Mac’s Sign Shop designed and built some of the city’s most modern signs, including the old Drexel Cleaners sign on NW 23rd.  When he needed to expand his space, Mac hired a promising young Goff student named Gary Cooper (yes, really) to design a new building.  This beauty is what he came up with.


St. Patrick’s Catholic Church


St. Patrick's robert l. jones

Felix Candela was the structural engineer for St. Patrick’s, but he didn’t like Robert L. Jones’ boxy, un-church-like design.  So, he suggested that Jones change it to a shamrock shape to capitalize on the St. Pat’s name.  Jones refused, and Candela was so disappointed that he never mentioned his participation in this project.


Bruce Goff’s Proposal for the

Cowboy Hall of Fame

Bruce goff cowboy hall of fame drawing rendering

Speaking of buildings that mimic actual things, this fun and imaginative horseshoe design from 1956 was Bruce Goff’s entry for the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Obviously, another design was chosen, but you can google Goff’s design to see a color, 3D interpretation of what his creation might have looked like.


Founders National Bank


founders bank

Bob Bowlby worked with Julius Shulman on another project then drove the photographer to his recently completed Founders Bank.  Shulman was so impressed with the structure that he returned at dusk one evening before he left town and took this stunning photo of the bank aglow against a cloudless sky.


Oklahoma County Courthouse and Federal Building


oklahoma county courthouse and federal building

oklahoma county courthouse federal building art relief

If you look closely at the photo of this building soon after it was completed, you’ll notice that the art is missing.  That’s because citizens balked at sculptor, Bernard Emerson Frazier’s initial nude designs.  It took three years for Frazier to complete the revised reliefs and install them.


Mummers Theater/Stage Center


stage center mummers theater

Finally, let’s have a moment of silence for this sad loss for our city….