Highlights from the 2015 AIA Tour
by Lynne Rostochil, photos by Lynne Rostochil and Robyn Arn
It’s that beautiful spring time of year in Oklahoma City where we can look forward to all kinds of crazy weather, fun arts festivals, and my favorite thing of all, the annual AIA tour. Once again, the AIA team put together an eclectic and very impressive mix of buildings that had throngs of tour goers ooing and aahing all day long. Let’s begin our recap with the two mid-century stops on the tour, both of which are located in the NW OKC ‘burbs.
House of Good Taste
A mere year ago, we featured this wonderful house on the Mod Blog:
The home was designed by Edward Durell Stone for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and it was such a hit that many admirers purchased Stone’s plans for $1,000 so that they could construct their very own House of Good Taste. OKC Developer Stanley Brown decided that this would be the perfect design to showcase his new golf course development going up in NW OKC and constructed the home on a private park in the heart of the neighborhood. The house has been well cared for over the years but was in need of updating when Squadders Mike and Lindsey Deatsch purchased it a year ago. They’ve done a remarkable and very sensitive remodel that included exposing original terrazzo floors in the heart of the house, giving the entry a little pizazz, and redoing the kitchen:
The home is now a real show stopper and is the perfect backdrop for Mike and Lindsey’s incredible MCM furniture collection:
Neighboring Quail Creek boasts quite a few MCM homes, including a little bit of paradise on earth next to the country club that architect Bill Howard designed as his personal residence in 1970:
The architect, who we profiled on one of our very first Mod Blogs, lived here among lush trees overlooking the golf course until 2011:
Howard died in 2012 at the age of 89, and Marty and Kim Dillon purchased the hexagonal, 3,900 sf home with nary a right angle the following year. Since then, they’ve completed a few light updates, including enclosing a wall between the kitchen and master bedroom and adding an entrance from the kitchen to the living area. Their modern furniture perfectly compliments the home’s dramatic architecture, as you can see in the living room and master bedroom:
The original kitchen isn’t too shabby, either:
The Mod Squad provided treats to tour goers at this stop, where Robyn, Terri, and I volunteered and got a chance to meet a lot of present and hopefully future members!
Leaving suburbia for the hoppin’ Midtown area, the next stop on the tour was the newly-built Classen Residence designed by Butzer Gardner Architects:
Situated right next to busy Classen Boulevard, the architects designed the tallest part of the home at that point and sloped it downward toward the much quieter residential area toward the east, where a wall of windows overlook a compact and friendly outdoor space. A spacious loft looks out over the all-one-room living/dining/kitchen areas, making the entire space feel large and airy:
The utilitarian hallway leading to two bedrooms and a bathroom maximizes function by housing a small office space, the laundry room, and walls of built-in bookshelves:
The home is pretty fantastic, especially when you consider that it was constructed for a mere $169 a square foot, including the lot price, professional fees, and all construction.
Up the street one block is the very stylish 828 Residence, designed by Ken Fitzsimmons of Task Design:
It always amazes me how architects can turn so many restrictions into a real work of art. In this case, the small lot size was the challenge; an older home occupies the back of the property, so the architect had a small space to create an ample-sized house with plenty of parking and a garage. The result is a light-filled three bedroom home with open common areas and a giant balcony above the garage with some pretty amazing views of downtown:
A slatted shade screen on the exterior west-facing side adds a decorative touch while also blocking out searing summer rays and creating a great shadow effect inside at certain times of day:
My favorite part of the house is the giant kitchen:
… and the built-in wine rack under the staircase:
Heading into the heart of Midtown is the newly converted and oh-so Streamline Monterey building:
Originally a Chrysler-Plymouth sales and service shop, the building was designed by Noftsger-Lawrence and built in 1947. Here’s an original drawing of the Monterey from the Oklahoma Historical Society:
And here are a few more rather blurry vintage images of the building from its early days as an auto service center:
It kills me that automobiles were being worked on while they sat on beautiful black and white tile floors, which have been lovingly preserved by Fitzsimmons Architects in their redesign of the space into offices for the Monterey Energy Group. During renovations, the architects uncovered original skylights and interior steelwork and, most dramatically, added 13 stacked shipping containers to increase the office space to two levels in a portion of the building. The containers are definitely the renovated space’s big wow:
The galvanized plank stairs aren’t too shabby, either:
The 21,000 sf building is a real study in juxtapositions — it’s both intimate and roomy, stunning yet friendly and can comfortably accommodate a ton of people, as we saw on the tour when a conference was going on at the same time hoards of architecture lovers walked through the space:
Next up is another building renovation, this time by Butzer Gardner Architects, who did a lovely job of converting a landmarked but tired building into a remarkable modern retreat. Check out the very stylish ’30s-era Mayfair Apartments:
And the ultra-mod living room/kitchen, which was very popular with the crowds:
The two bedroom flat boasts great views of downtown and the best bathroom shower EVER with two windows overlooking all of the Midtown action below:
I love that!!
The final Midtown stop on this year’s tour was the nearly completed OKSea, a cantilevered beauty that was designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris:
Seventeen shipping containers make up this mixed use complex that will be home to a restaurant (think gourmet corny dogs from the folks who brought you The Mule), office space, and a retail space.
According the tour guide, OKSea has a “10-year lifespan on the current site, at the end of which it will be dismantled and reconstructed elsewhere, hopefully acting as a catalyst for urban renewal in another part of Oklahoma.”
Buddha Mind Monestery
Who knew that Midwest City was home to a Buddhist monastery? Well, a lot of people do thanks to this tour!
Designed by David Hung of Pacific Design Group, the Buddha Mind Monestery features a 16,000 sf main temple, residence quarters, a meditation hall and library, classrooms, and a dining hall surrounding a reflection courtyard. Every aspect of the monastery is full of symbolism, from the curved front that Chinese doctrine believes reflects the roundness of Heaven to the 18 columns in the courtyard that recall Buddha’s original followers.
The campus is filled with all kinds of visual eye candy, all of which evokes thoughtful meditation:
Well, that’s it for this year’s tour! The thing I always take away from the AIA tour is what inspired talent we have had and continue to have here in OKC with our incredibly gifted and creative architects and their adventurous and very willing clients. It’s thanks to them that Oklahoma’s architectural landscape becomes more interesting with each passing year. A big thanks to them and to the AIA for making the public more aware of OKC’s best buildings.