During the last twenty years Oklahoma City has focused on improving the CBD and adjacent areas. Districts such as Bricktown, Film Row, the C2S Park, and Midtown are benefiting tremendously from this attention. Now that The Innovation District is taking shape Miles Associates believes itís time for the City to spend some effort there.
Founded in 1980, Miles Associates specializes in science and technology projects in the corporate, health, and academic sectors. As a former campus architect at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Bud Miles founded Miles Associates to provide specialized architectural services tailored to meet the needs and challenges of institutional clients. The firm currently employs 31 professionals located in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Dallas. Some notable Oklahoma projects include the OU Childrenís Hospital and Atrium, GE Oil & Gas Global Research Technology Center, OU Devon Energy Hall, and Quik Tripís Corporate Headquarters.
In addition to architecture, Miles Associates has master planned several university campuses in Oklahoma and the Caribbean, including the OU Research Campus, ECU, and the University Center of Southern Oklahoma. The firm has also master planned corporate headquarters and healthcare campuses including the Oklahoma Health Center, and the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Campus (now the OU Research Park).
Their familiarity with The Innovation District prompted them to study ways to reduce the negative aspects of the I-235 barrier that divides the Oklahoma Health Center from Automobile Alley. Their self-defined goal was to increase connectivity and improve walkability. The OKC Innovation Link is the result of over thirty months of study, planning, and design. Many different civic leaders have seen the plan, provided valuable input, and are excited to see it progress. But the design is still conceptual, and will require a lot more input from stakeholders and considerable development before its viability is determined.
There are other examples of similar highway-capping projects in Dallas, Boston, and Columbus. The Columbus example is notable for its efficient creation of new land for the construction of buildings and pedestrian spaces. The Dallas example spans Woodall Rogers Freeway with a park that successfully knits both sides together. The Miles solution incorporates good attributes from each example, resulting in a unique design that is striking and functional.
Several features are included in the Phase-1 project to enhance the pedestrian experience. Each of the two bridges will be widened to accommodate walking and biking paths. A new flyover pedestrian bridge will link the OU Research Park to the 9th Street activity corridor. The studies indicated that 9th Street should be the primary link to Automobile Alley, and thatís why it was given a prominent terminus on the cap.
The graceful curve of the cap is designed in response to existing topographic conditions and respect for existing vehicle travel lanes and clearances. Several new sites are created for buildings, pathways, and public spaces. In addition to creating new building and green spaces, the design attracts walking and biking instead of repelling them, resulting in increased connectivity and improved walkability.