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Myriad flap doesn't faze first architect

By Jack Money and Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 25, 1998
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John Bozalis wasn't disturbed by criticisms of the Myriad Convention Center when it was built in the late 1960s, and he isn't letting it bother him today.

Bozalis, 85, was a partner in the firm that designed the $23 million Myriad.

Today, the Myriad has become the scapegoat of the city's Metropolitan Area Projects.

Oklahoma City Council members have continuously derided the building as poorly designed and built. The criticism is especially harsh when contractors tell the city that they have discovered more problems and that additional work is needed in renovation.

Bozalis has closely followed the progress on MAPS. He insists the building has served its purpose well for 25 years.

The retired architect dismisses comments from Oklahoma City Council members who want to go after original designers and builders to recoup some of today's renovation costs.

Bozalis said the current work on the convention center is needed because Oklahoma City did little serious maintenance since 1972 when the building opened.

He said the building has played host to thousands of conventions, shows and sporting events during its lifetime.

Bozalis said he is "absolutely" proud of the building's history, and he believes it has done "exactly" what it was built to do.

The building's design and construction were unique at the time because post-tension cables, the method used to support its roof and framework, had not been tried on such a large scale.

Bozalis keeps a scrapbook of photographs that show the step-by-step process builders followed to erect the Myriad.

The foundation for the building and its parking garage underneath were the first portions of construction completed by contractor H.A. Lott Inc. of Houston.

Support columns next were precast on the floor of the building - really two separate buildings, the arena and west-side exhibit halls, joined together. The trusses, which also were precast on the building site, were hoisted into place using hydraulic lifts.

The trusses make up the roof, suspended between the columns that make up the main walls of the buildings. They are supported by strands of heavy gage cable that are several inches in diameter.

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