Preliminary designs for a new 750-space parking garage south of City Hall unveiled Wednesday show a nod toward nearby landmarks and a mix of modern architecture.
A report on the project, however, included an update that previous plans for housing on the top three floors may be in doubt.
Cathy O'Connor, director of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, told the board that consultant RTKL has questioned the addition of housing as being feasible when weighed against the current project timeline and the scale of the surrounding skyline.
If the project were to include housing, current designs call for a 10th floor of dedicated parking for two additional floors that would accommodate 40 apartments.
“The residential floors would have spectacular views of downtown,” O'Connor said after advising the housing is still being evaluated.
Architect Anthony McDermid, whose firm TAP Architecture is working on the designs with Chicago-based Desman Associates, said the garage will be about the height of the Hightower Building, its neighbor to the east, and a couple floors higher than the city's finance building to the west.
The garage is being designed for a surface parking lot bordered by the two buildings to the east and west, and Colcord Drive and Main Street to the north and south.
“It's a very simple pattern. We would use the existing stair and elevator towers. It is a large garage, and it's a large elevation,” McDermid said. “We explored a lot of design ideas, looked around for inspiration.”
The designs shown Wednesday included a series of color panels that will provide a key code for visitors to remember where they parked their cars.
The panels are designed to reflect the window screen panels incorporated into the Art Deco facades of City Hall, the Civic Center Music Hall and county courthouse, all WPA-era structures built in 1937.
The colors also are intended to reflect the Dale Chihuly glass tower at the nearby Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
The ground floor retail, meanwhile, is set to be surrounded with a black granite facade reflective of the shops facing Park Avenue at First National Center.
The remainder of the structure will likely consist of a stainless steel mesh skin or similar material intended to exceed the city's requirement that garages be built with at least 30 percent cross ventilation.
Commissioner Larry Nichols questioned whether the first floor of retail space is necessary and noted that downtown properties are struggling to sign up shops and stores for existing space.
O'Connor responded the city may want to use the space for large conference rooms or customer service operations. City Councilman Ed Shadid, who was in attendance at the meeting, also suggested the space might be ideal for creating a fitness center for city employees.
The garage is the first expansion to the city's public parking since the opening of the City Center garages a decade ago, which were then sold to neighboring property owners including Devon Energy Corp.
With existing garages running at full capacity, the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority hopes to start construction next year.