The owner of the Gold Dome is putting demolition plans on hold and is promising to listen to all ideas and pitches.
David Box, also owner of the Greens Country Club and Box Talent, bought the building for $800,000 after it was seized in foreclosure by Bank 7 from the prior owner, Dr. Irene Lam.
When Box bought the building, he promised he had no intent of tearing it down, though he said he had no plan for the property. He said at the time he did “due diligence” and was familiar with the building's maintenance challenges. He said existing leases would be considered.
But on March 13, Box unsuccessfully sought a demolition permit to destroy the Gold Dome. His request was denied by the city, which requires that any exterior changes to the property, including demolition, be approved by the Urban Design Committee.
His suggestion that he would pay someone to simply take the roof also is on hold.
Box said Monday he has heard concerns and criticism of those who want to save the Gold Dome, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I really like the building,” Box said. “I'd like to save it. But I feel as if I'm boxed in, I'm in a corner. I'm looking to the city or citizens to help. I bought it at a sheriff's auction. I was the only bidder. It probably wasn't as well thought out as it should have been.”
When the Gold Dome was built at NW 23 and Classen in 1958, the two-story building with the familiar round anodized aluminum roof was touted by Citizens Bank as “the bank of tomorrow.”
The building was based on the geodesic design by noted inventor, architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller.
The plight of the Gold Dome is drawing national attention, with the Architect's Newspaper Blog noting that combined with threats against downtown's Stage Center, “Oklahoma City just cannot tear down its architectural landmarks fast enough.”
Box told the blog he was willing to pay $100,000 to someone to take the geodesic dome roof off his hands.
“I'm just looking at all options,” Box explained. “The goal is to save the dome if I can, or find a partner to make it happen.”
Oklahoma City Planning Director Russell Claus responded that removal of the dome, however, would require the same review and approval that would go with demolition.
Preservation architect Catherine Montgomery said Box's offer to give away the dome roof ignores the historic value of the entire structure.
“The pure preservation response is a moved building is not eligible for the historic register,” Montgomery said. “If you move the entire building or just the roof, it gets taken off the register.”
Montgomery said the value of the Gold Dome includes the rarity of a dome being set on walls instead of on the ground. “It's also the terrazzo floor that has all the circles in it, a fabulous example of how to work with that material at the time,” she said.
Melissa Hunt, director of the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said her board is set to meet soon about the proposed demolition or removal of the roof.
“Historic preservation isn't taking apart the building and just saving just part of it,” Montgomery said. “It's about the saving of the building.”
Box responds he's ready and willing to give Montgomery and the Central Oklahoma AIA a chance to survey the building and offer possible solutions.
But he added he cannot sit on the property for years, and that he's losing money on monthly mortgage, insurance and tax payments.
Box said he's heard plenty of criticism — but what he's seeking is a solution.
“I don't want it on my tombstone that I tore down the Gold Dome,” Box said. “But the taxpayers paid $1 million to fix it up. The bank sought to get rid of it. Irene Lam couldn't make it work. So instead of complaining, let's do something.”