Designed by Caudill, Rowlett & Scott
1501 N. Classen, OKC
By the 1950s, Caudill, Rowlett & Scott (CRS) was quickly becoming the go-to firm for modern school design; in fact, their low-slung schools could be found all over the nation, with many of them right here in Oklahoma where the firm got their start with several schools in Blackwell. With so much work here in the Sooner State, William Caudill and his crew decided it was time to design an office building in Oklahoma City as their headquarters here, and the Bettes building is what they came up with. It was one of their first office building designs and triumphed over 700 other designs to win Progressive Architecture’s Award Citation in 1956 before it was even constructed.
The rectangular building’s most dramatic element, the terra cotta tile curtain walls on its north and south sides, served a practical function by preventing direct and oftentimes blaring sunlight from entering the building and heating up the interior spaces. The upper two stories cantilever out over the glass-walled first story, keeping that level cool, as well. Another interesting feature of the building is the north side, second level entrance, where workers and customers cross a bridge to access the building.
The Bettes building was originally to have a fourth story penthouse, but building restrictions reduced it to three stories. A mortgage banking company, T.J. Bettes, occupied the first two floors, while CRS and other tenants shared office space on the third floor.
After the building exchanged hands in 1968 and again in 1983, Catholic Charities bought the old Bettes Building in 1995 and has called this beautiful space home ever since.
Rumors are swirling that this building and the neighboring Landmark Building may be demolished and replaced sometime in the near future, but while the Landmark is vacant and falling apart, the former Bettes Building appears to be well taken care of and fully occupied.