Office plan overcomes concerns

By Steve Lackmeyer Published: September 19, 2008
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Plans for a new Greater Oklahoma City Chamber headquarters were approved unanimously Thursday by the Downtown Design Review Committee despite concerns expressed by a handful of civic leaders that the project is a bad fit for the Central Business District.

Clay Bennett, who led the chamber's effort to build a new home, told members of the committee the designs represent a best effort at using an oddly configured triangular site while also trying to ensure the building will adequately address the chamber's current and future needs.

What it looks like
The design, a four-story all glass building shaped like a football, includes a park-like entrance facing E.K. Gaylord Boulevard. A planning staff report issued to the committee recommended they reject the building design because it was too far off from the street. Architect Allen Brown responded the building footprint was necessary to protect a clear sight line for the E.K. Gaylord Building across the street.

"We wanted the building to stand out — something that would be an attraction,” Brown said. "It's meant to express that Oklahoma City is a city that is rising, a diamond in the rough.”

Brown said the chamber discussed a proposed realignment of E.K. Gaylord and NW 3 that would have established a park where the streets now connect with Broadway. Such realignment would have allowed the new chamber to have a more urban set-back from the street, but also would have created an extra stop at E.K. Gaylord — a change rejected by city engineers.

Developer Grant Humphreys praised the chamber designs, but told the committee they should consider the proposed realignment.

"They (city engineers) are working around the constraints of the site as it exists today,” Humphreys said.

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