Going Green Tulsa Style: Final Thoughts on the National Preservation Conference

Posted on: October 27th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

The National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has concluded, though staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation are still sending in field reports. Today, Barbara Campagna, Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, shares her experiences on a green tour and final thoughts on Tulsa.

Ken Busby describes the Tulsa 2025 program in the First Street Lofts.

Ken Busby describes the Tulsa 2025 program in the First Street Lofts.

I was in Tulsa for four days before I was actually able to get out of downtown, and start to feel like there may just be a community here. I took a wonderful tour Friday afternoon, “Going Green Tulsa Style”, led by the passionate and amusing Ken Busby, executive director & CEO of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa. From Ken I learned that 60% of Tulsa’s downtown core is covered with parking lots and that the neighborhoods, communities and culture exist on the edge of downtown or the older “suburbs”. That encouraged me a bit, although I would like to understand sometime what happened to downtown Tulsa to devastate it to such an extent. There is no retail, few restaurants, no pharmacies, grocery stores, or dry cleaners anywhere in sight downtown. And while many downtowns around the country go dormant on the weekends, I have never seen a major city that is dormant during the week also. Let’s be honest, I was pretty depressed my first few days here. I saw no people, few cars, no sign of activity or life on downtown streets until Saturday –- when the streets came alive with runners for the Tulsa 5K in the morning and hockey-goers for the game at the new Cesar Pelli BOK Center in the evening. Ah hah! I figured, there are people close enough to enjoy these activities so maybe there is hope that downtown Tulsa may be reactivated and come alive again in the future.

First Street Lofts

All of the buildings on our “Going Green” Tour were outside of or on the edge of downtown. Our first stop was the First Street Lofts, a warehouse being adapted for use as 17 condos (ranging from 550 sq. ft. to 3,500 sq. ft.) with ground-floor retail. The First Street Lofts are your classic 20th century warehouse -– steel and concrete frame with brick infill walls. It was hard to tell what is actually happening there since it’s in the midst of construction and unfortunately, due to some glitches in scheduling, the owner never made it while we were there. So beyond the fact that an existing building is being reused, I can’t really confirm how “green” the project is. It did seem that an effort was being made to salvage materials with bricks and steel structure etc., being piled up in corners, hopefully to be recycled and not to end up in a landfill.

But Ken was able to tell us about a city program called Vision 2025 which is providing encouragement and funding to developers to improve the residential density of downtown. The developer of this project is receiving $3 million towards the work, which is the first of 5 projects to be funded and launched under this program. The intent is that the housing should be as affordable as possible and start to increase the dire lack of housing downtown.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

 

Change of the Season At the Soldiers' Home: Leaves are falling at President Lincoln's Cottage, revealing the stunning views into the city that President Lincoln once enjoyed. [President Lincoln's Cottage]

House Museums and Ultimate Use: Vince Michael reports from the National Preservation Conference on the annual Site Council meetings. [Time Tells]

Everhouse - A new Plan for post-Katrina Homes: Housing is still a major problem in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. John Sawyer, a Boston-based builder, has proposed an affordable and efficient solution to the problem. [Innovation - The Christian Science Monitor]

The Supersurface of Architectural Diaspora: Pruned uses the recent planned movement of a church in China to discuss landscape history and changes to place and space. [Pruned]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Tulsa Poster Presentations: Making an Impression, Poster-Style

Posted on: October 26th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has concluded, though staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation are still sending in field reports. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, has one final post about the poster presentations in the Exhibit Hall .

Posters are hard. If there is anything I’ve learned about interpretation it's that how you present something is just as important as what you are presenting. In fact, in order to communicate your story and make the right hook your colors and presentation are part of what makes a visitor stop and take a second look.

As I made my initial walk through the Exhibit Hall I tended to go to presentations that “popped out” at me when I walked by. There were four in particular that made an impression -- one using faux stone, another the human presence, a third aimed for 3D visuals, and a fourth thematically designed as a 1950s pop art panel.

The St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral poster.

The St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral poster.

On his poster entitled “Connecting St. Vartan Cathedral to Aght’amar” Frank Nichols describes how “walking by St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City made [him] curious about the large stone compositions on the side of the church.” The poster is composed of a single paragraph of text and images (both renderings and photographs) of the cathedral. It’s the sort of presentation that one would usually scan and quickly glance at the photographs before walking away thinking about how interesting the subject matter was. That is until you look closer, which is when you realize that the presentation is actually mounted on Styrofoam squares (meant to look like tile) which were intended to make the viewer think about what the architects intended for the incomplete artwork when they were inspired by a 10th century chapel in Aght’amar. The left side of the presentation is gray stone while the other is painted to mimic brick and is how I ended up taking a second and then third look, appreciating the incomplete artwork with visual accenting of faux tile.

A few boards down is “Our Land/Our Lives” by Rebecca Goodwin, of the Otero County Historic Preservation Council. This poster looks at the endangered region of Purgatore River and Pinyon Canyon (a listing on the 2007 11 Most list). Here the authors ask the observer to take in the view on a personal level. Each time I look at the photographs I make a connection that leaves me thinking about visiting this beautiful vista. In creating a narrative this poster used the usual images of landscape to build out the poster. What’s different is that the framed matted photographs include wildlife and the people who live there. In addition there are quotations by T.S. Elliot and actual residents showing how important the site is to the people who lived and grew up there. Here is one such poem by Shelly Van Landingham, a fifth generation SE Coloradian:

This land is where my roots run more than a century deep
Where my branches have spread since birth
Where my leaves blossom and reach
This land is where my hope and dreams begin
Where my seeds shall fall and grow again

The Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building poster presentation.

The Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building poster presentation.

The third poster I was struck by is a proposal by Paul Coffey for the Louis Sullivan Jewlers Building in Chicago, Illinois. In the proposal he outlines his plan to rehab the building using a green roof which would then supply some of the energy to run the geothermal heat pumps. What was intriguing about his poster was its simplicity. It contains a single image of the exterior of the building behind a 3D model which had green grass (growing from the top) with a 2D mockup of the pump system below. Usually when you are limited as to space people stick to using the entire board letting pieces of their project extrude just a little beyond the two-dimensional. In this case the model helped to illustrate Paul’s ideas in a much unique manner. It intrigued me enough to pick up a packet of his information to read later. For more information on his project email him at pcoffe [at] saic [dot ]edu*

The Brutalism poster.

The Brutalism poster.

Last but not least is the poster entitled “Brutalism: Favoring the Out of Favor.” I guess the fascinating thing about this poster is the design element. Brutalism is not one of those architecture types that you see people running to save. Now that we, as preservationists, are taking a bigger look at the modern, Gretchen K. Pfaehler, director of preservation at EwingCole states “it requires meeting Brutalism’s stylistic challenges and addressing the maintenance of its simple geometric use of concrete.” What I love about the poster is that it uses the Pop Art style to get its point across which is not only eye catching but also makes me inclined to actually read a poster that is on a topic I would usually walk past. Pfaehler goes on state that “the steel, glass, and concrete details require specific solutions and presents challenges for modern facilities.” For more information on her poster you can email her at gpfaehler [at] ewingcole [dot] com.*

While these were not the only four posters that stood out of the Poster presentations, they each illustrate a way to present your ideas in a creative and exciting way. In each case I learned more then I expected and will probably end up doing some reading to learn even more.

-- Priya Chhaya

* Replace the bracketed words with the corresponding symbols, and viola! It’s a proper email address.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Two Trust Bloggers Treat Themselves to a Day Trip to Bartlesville

Posted on: October 26th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has concluded, though staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation are still sending in field reports. Today, Barbara Campagna, Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, shares the story of her roadtrip with a colleague and fellow blogger, Walter Gallas, director of the New Orleans Field Office.

Walter Gallas & Barbara Campagna pose in front of the Route 66 sculpture with Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in the background during the road trip to Bartlesville, OK.

Walter Gallas & Barbara Campagna pose in front of the Route 66 sculpture with Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in the background during the road trip to Bartlesville, OK.

Walter Gallas and I usually only talk to each other through our blog postings on PreservationNation. (Walter writes Notes from New Orleans and I write Beyond Green Building.) But this week, the Preservation Conference in Tulsa brought us together in person and we headed north to Bartlesville with Jim Logan, the Trust’s New Orleans Advisor, in between meetings. Luckily we left for Bartlesville earlier than many of our other colleagues who had the same idea, and we managed to get the last three spots on the 11 a.m. tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper, the Price Tower.

Now, since I spend most of my work time overseeing our historic sites, many of which are house museums, it goes without saying that I usually hate tours. But this one was perfect -– only eight people (because the elevators and spaces are so “Frank Lloyd Wright” -- small -- so that more just wouldn’t fit), 45 minutes long and just enough gossip to keep it amusing. We had the best weather today that we’ve seen all week in Oklahoma -- high 60s with brilliant blue skies. I couldn’t remember much about the history of Price Tower, so it was fun to rediscover it. Built in 1956 as the headquarters for the H.C. Price Company (one of the biggest manufacturers and installers of gas pipelines in the world), at 19 floors, it’s the tallest Frank Lloyd Wright building in the world and is even more distinctive for being located in the wide open spaces of the prairie not in the canyons of a city. The organic copper decoration, inspired by native American details, felt very Mayan to me. The key motif and parti for the building is the triangle, which is found everywhere, even in the parking lot sewer grilles.

A detail of Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK. This is the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper in the world.

A detail of Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK. This is the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper in the world.

The office building, which was vacant and deteriorating for many years, now houses the Price Tower Art Center complete with terrific Wright-focused shop and gallery, offices, and a boutique hotel at the top of the building. The tour takes you to one of the remaining typical two-story apartments which is now a museum –- with floor to ceiling aluminum casement windows, built-in furnishings, tiny bathrooms that compete with airplane bathrooms, a walk-in closet smaller than most of our regular closets and a triangular linen closet that none of us could imagine putting even one towel in. Mr. Price’s private office is on the top floor. I enjoyed the views but really liked the huge globe that Price insisted on installing despite Wright’s objections (it wasn’t triangular). That’s probably why I liked it even more.

Now Bartlesville is in the heart of Bruce Goff country and since I never picked up one book on Tulsa before I came, I didn’t realize till I got to Bartlesville that I should have added an extra day to the trip for the Goff buildings. So, no Goff buildings, but getting to spend two hours at the Price Tower was a true highlight of this week in Oklahoma. And getting to go on a mini-road trip with a fellow blogger, priceless!

-- Barbara Campagna

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Tulsa Poster Presentations: Diversity is our Strength

Posted on: October 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The National Preservation Conference is this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Staff members from around the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be blogging from the conference and sharing their experiences. Priya Chhaya, program assistant for training & online services in the Center for Preservation Leadership, is in the Exhibit Hall checking out the poster presentations.

One of the common themes I have been hearing in sessions this week links preservation with diversity. From economics to advocacy or even regional and cultural, diversity in all its forms is essential to the goals of historic preservation. At the Tuesday special lecture, Dr. Bob Blackburn described the incredible richness of Oklahoma’s history whether it be Indian, African American, or western expansion and how they each intertwine and support each other. He talked about how each of those stories has come together to create the Oklahoma preservation story. Mayor Kathy Taylor, in her talk stated that “We learned to leverage that diversity into strength.”

In the Exhibit Hall the posters are about a variety of subjects -- and while many deal with cultural diversity across the spectrum of life they also seek to highlight places and people and events and ideas from a bowling alley in 1950s Los Angeles to a Cherokee courthouse due for renovation.

Take me back to the Holiday Bowl

The Holiday Bowl poster.

The Holiday Bowl poster.

The Holiday Bowl originally opened in 1958 and was a dynamic site integral to Los Angeles’ Japanese-American community. Not only a bowling alley, as John English, the author of the poster states -- the Holiday Bowl also “served as a shop, cocktail lounge, meeting rooms, and a children’s play area.”

As a “landmark of diversity,” this bowling area was designed by Helen Fong, a Chinese-American female designer, owned by Japanese-American business men and served Japanese-Americans, African Americans and “people of all ethnicities.” It provided a place of leisure but also a place of community.

John English’s poster provides more detail, but ultimately discusses how this one place meant so much to so many and was a living part of one community’s history. However, despite the efforts of the Coalition to Save the Holiday Bowl the Holiday Bowl was demolished on October 17, 2003. For more information visit: www.holidaybowlcrenshaw.com. To see the poster “The Holiday Bowl: Landmark of Diversity” visit the exhibit hall.

Beyond the African American Narrative

The African-American narratives poster.

The African-American narratives poster.

Two alumni of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's diversity scholar program, Patsy Fletcher and Alison Rose Jefferson developed “African American Places of Leisure,” a poster striving to demonstrate that “there are African American sites to preserve that are broader than those places emanating from the slave or civil rights narrative.” While Patsy looks at 19th century sites, Alison moves forward in time to examine the 20th.

Patsy’s poster looks at the 19th century sites of leisure, dividing them into religious gatherings turned into vacation/recreation (The Big Quarterly in Delaware), areas where amenities are segregated but open to African Americans (Stower College/Harpers Ferry), and sites specifically developed for the African American market (Highland Beach in Maryland).

A century later, Alison examines Lake Elsinore in California trying to pull together ideas of California, African American leisure patterns to argue for the creation of a heritage trail.

Like the poster on the Holiday Bowl, “African American Places of Leisure” are attempting to open the scope of what we know and what we should save as historic preservationists.

The Cherokee Story

The Cherokee courthouse presentation.

The Cherokee courthouse presentation.

During the opening plenary, Chief Wilma Mankiller described the challenge of native peoples to preserve the sites of their culture. She said that we need to figure out how to “capture, maintain and pass on tribal knowledge around the world.”

One such poster embraces that vision. The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Building was built in 1844 and remained the sole Cherokee structures to survive the Civil War. It is about to embark on a two phase restoration -- first the exterior 1875 façade and then the interior work. The intention is to create a Cherokee cultural center which focuses on judicial systems of the Cherokee Nation (for more information visit www.cherokeetourismok.com).

Each of these posters look at sites of diversity and also attempt to think of diversity in terms of site location, and places. While not all are successfully saved (in the case of the Holiday Bowl) they emphasize that we as humans, hold a connection to our built environment in many, many different ways.

-- Priya Chhaya

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.