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Viability, economic feasibility to determine fate of Stage Center

Preservation Oklahoma is appealing the decision of the Downtown Design Review Committee to demolish Stage Center to make room for an office building.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: March 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: March 3, 2014

The building resembles an elaborate Tinker Toy set, and is literally a building built “inside out” in the brutalist architectural style that flourished in the 1960s.

Gold Circle award

Stage Center is the only building in Oklahoma City to win an international Gold Circle award from the American Institute of Architects.

The theater, however, was never fully embraced by the community, and the design was forced upon city leaders by the Ford Foundation, which threatened to yank its funding from the theater’s construction if Johansen’s designs were rejected.

Williams is preparing to rely on Peter Dolese, president of the Arts Council of Oklahoma City and former owner of the building, to help show that no matter how original the design, the theater is not viable for nonprofits and performing arts groups.

“In its current state, it’s not functionally viable,” Dolese said. “When it was opened, it was certainly usable. But there were so many difficult aspects to running the building, that while it was the flooding that closed it, the agencies in it were always struggling. And we were struggling to meet the financial requirements of running the building.”

Pettyjohn on Monday declined to detail how his group will argue against the demolition or respond to Dolese’s comments.

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
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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