Work on re-creating Oklahoma City's downtown parks will begin soon

Construction should begin soon on the remake of Kerr Park and Couch Drive Park in downtown Oklahoma City as SandRidge Energy prepares to complete work on the adjoining Parkside Building.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm •  Published: August 21, 2013

Construction is set to begin soon on the makeover of Kerr and Couch Drive Parks as SandRidge Energy prepares to complete work on the adjoining Parkside Building.

The park was first built by Kerr-McGee more than 40 years ago, but by the 1990s, the pavement was buckling, many of the fountains were broken and it was largely forgotten by downtown workers.

When SandRidge Energy bought the nearby Kerr-McGee headquarters in 2007, the company pledged, along with Chesapeake Energy, to build a new park. Aaron Young, an architect with Rogers Marvel, gave a recent update on the project that includes an estimated completion date of the fall of 2014 for the park and Parkside Building.

“We started with the question, ‘How do we make more park out of this?'” Young said. “The overall idea, through simple material continuity, is that we can create the idea of there being one single park.”

That continuity begins with two statues that will be retained from the original park — the Pioneers of 1889 on the west end and the Air Force Monument on the east end.

Both statues were created by noted artist Leonard McMurray.

“To have the park bookended by this same artist is pretty important,” Young said.

But the statues, he added, suffered from less than ideal presentation.

The Pioneers of 1889 will be taken off its current 7-foot-high pedestal and reset on a slightly raised grassy mound and encased in light at night. The Air Force Monument, meanwhile, will be set inside a grove of trees with a lit up path leading up to it.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
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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