Downtown Oklahoma City's architectural gems

Oklahoman business writer Steve Lackmeyer gives his list of the best architectural additions to downtown Oklahoma City in the past 20 years.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: June 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm •  Published: June 21, 2013
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4.Regatta Park boathouses.

Architect: Elliott Associates, Oklahoma City.

Address: Oklahoma River.

Some may say the boathouses verge on the old “form over function” dilemma. I'll put that debate aside and point out form — a standout style — was absolutely needed when it came to the river. Rand Elliott is not subtle. Rand Elliott designs places and buildings that are beautiful to photograph and look amazing in architectural magazines. Consider that the original boathouse planned for the Oklahoma River was set to be a forgettable cliche log cabin style structure. Credit former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon for recognizing the importance of design in re-establishing the Oklahoma River as a cultural asset instead of an embarrassment. McClendon didn't have to look far for an architect who could create a “wow” for the river. McClendon and Elliott were good friends, had worked together designing the Chesapeake campus, and both knew how to dream big. They've done just that, and the first boathouse has inspired a great master plan that is rapidly becoming a reality. Boathouse row is sleek, modern, and presents an entirely new image of the city to the thousands of motorists who pass by on the nearby Interstate 40. A log cabin? Oh, what a disaster that would have been.

5.Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

Architect: ADG Inc., Oklahoma City.

Address: 2 S Mickey Mantle Drive.

Tom Wilson and his crew were the unfortunate souls to be first up in the MAPS grinder. The city's processes for implementing MAPS projects were not perfected when designs were submitted and then bid out for the ballpark. The results, at first, were disastrous. But ADG regrouped and effectively changed the designs without sacrificing quality. How important is good design? Look no further than the ballpark. Public opinion of MAPS was dismal before the ballpark opened. The quality and the vintage elegance of this first MAPS project changed public perception as the thousands of baseball fans packed the place on opening day way back in 1998.

6.Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Architect: Allen Brown, Oklahoma City.

Address: 415 Couch Drive.

Art museums are often “mucked up” by designers who are derided as “black cape” architects. It's the ultimate case of form over function, and in this real world, the designs are either home runs or absolute fouls. Brown incorporated the existing Art Deco Centre Theater facade, complimented the surrounding Civic Center architecture, and yet also created a building that is clearly a new addition. The building's simplicity is its triumph.


by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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Honorable mention:

Skydance Bridge — Butzer Gardener Architects

Brownstones at Maywood Park — TAP Architecture

Block 42 — HSE

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