The Downtown Design Review Committee unanimously approved revised plans for a makeover of the Civic Center park despite protests it will eliminate decades-old trees and may be too modern for the site.
Architect Rand Elliott and landscape architect Jim Crosby with Tulsa-based PDG told the committee they have permanently eliminated a series of metal “spinner towers” from the project, and that it also will proceed without an arch planned along Walker Avenue.
The $3 million project is being funded through the Project 180 makeover of downtown established through a tax increment financing agreement with Devon Energy Corp.
“We think we've really done an appropriate job and done service to the historical integrity of the park,” Crosby said.
“What you see now is not the original park; it was redone in the 1970s … There was an original vision, and now we're looking at a new vision for the 21st century.”
Elliott, who has been criticized for bringing too much of his “modernistic” design style to the park, said the plans are truer to the park's original landscape and reflect the Art Deco features found in the adjoining City Hall and Civic Center Music Hall.
He said the design also better respects the historic grand lawn that connects the two buildings.
“We're trying to go back to the historic nature of the park and tie the whole thing together,” Elliott said.
Those speaking against the project included planning commissioners John Yoeckel and Bob Bright, who questioned whether the design had gone through adequate public scrutiny.
Public works director Eric Wenger told the committee the designs were previously presented to the city council and design committee last year and that the project was not being rushed through approval.