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Stage Center not ugly, impractical

Published: August 10, 2013
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Regarding “Older buildings can fall victim to changing skyline” (News, July 27): Stage Center must be saved. What would Manhattan's Madison Avenue be without Marcel Breuer's bold Whitney Museum of American Art? How about Fifth Avenue without the thrilling modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum? John Johansen's Stage Center is in the same league as these world-class masterworks. Stage Center provides a truly unique historical link between the American masters of midcentury architectural experimentation and the aesthetic of the single most influential architect in the world today, Frank Gehry.

To understand Gehry's work, one must know Johansen's Stage Center, which Gehry recently celebrated as “a special moment in our cultural history.” High praise indeed. To destroy Stage Center without fully and painstakingly examining its potential as a mixed-use space, as a theater, as something, would be a mark of infamy on those who need a good swift kick in their metaphorical britches: the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, downtown developers, Mayor Mick Cornett and the Oklahoma City Council. These people must take the initiative by embracing this glorious structure for what it has the potential to be and do for downtown.

You can do it, Oklahoma City! Ignore those who describe Stage Center as “ugly,” “impractical” or “unusable.”

Jeffrey Stephens, Stevens Point, Wis.

Stephens, a native of Oklahoma City, is an associate professor of theatre history at the University of Wisconsin.