Dear Gold Dome lovers:
I feel your pain. I, too, am a lover of the Gold Dome, the “bank of tomorrow” when Citizens Bank built it back in 1958.
Yes, it's pretty, in its Buckminster Fullerish, President Eisenhowerish, “At the Hop,” “The Purple People Eater,” “Hard Headed Woman,” Danny & the Juniors-Sheb Wooley-Elvis Presley way.
It is lovely, even, for a geodesic dome.
But the “bank of tomorrow” is the investor's albatross of today.
Functional, apparently, the dome is not. Whatever its past successes, it has failed in the past decade as a functional building — meaning one capable of producing income for an investor. Form has won over function.
First one owner, Dr. Irene Lam, whose heart was in it, tried to make a go of it, but her efforts fell victim to the Great Recession.
And now another owner, David Box, whose heart apparently is not in it, is trying to throw in the towel. “We applied for a demolition permit to see if we could get it,” he told The Oklahoman. “To see,” he said.
Of course, he'd have to go before the city Urban Design Committee for approval before tearing down the Gold Dome. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Meanwhile, people are hoping for another uprising of architects, historic preservation fans and funky old building lovers to gin up support for saving the Gold Dome again. That's what happened almost a dozen years ago.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to think it would be gone,” said Randy Floyd, an architect who helped lead the successful protests against Bank One when it tried to raze the dome in 2001. He told The Oklahoman that Box will face a fight, too.
“I can't imagine anything put on that spot that would cause the kind of passion that people have for that building. I think people will want to rise up again. I can't imagine anyone has lost attraction to that building over these few years,” Floyd said.
Agreed: No one who loved the Gold Dome then has lost it. A Facebook page popped up Friday afternoon: Search for “Save OKC's Historic Gold Dome” if you want to “Like” it and support it.
But, a decade of trying suggests strongly that the future use of the property is not as leasable space. Its future, if it has a future, lies in its real value to Oklahoma City: as a piece of art — a big, not-very-functional, historic, piece of eccentric art.
So, it needs an eccentric owner, an artist, an unusual owner-occupier.
Calling Wayne Coyne and friends. The Gold Dome is weird enough — ah, eccentric — on the outside. Considering what y'all did with the Womb art gallery off downtown, imagine what a touch of The Flaming Lips could do with the inside of the Gold Dome. Or maybe just lend your Lips to the cause.