View Full Version : New Life For The American City



Praedura
09-29-2012, 02:06 AM
Architectural Record has posted an article (or rather, series of articles) about three metropolitan areas that are re-inventing themselves: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Oklahoma City.

Architectural Record | Transforming the American City (http://archrecord.construction.com/features/2012/American-City)

The Oklahoma City part starts here:
Architectural Record | Oklahoma City | Transforming the American City (http://archrecord.construction.com/features/2012/American-City/Oklahoma)

There are sections for:
- Devon Energy Center
- Classen Curve
- Skydance Bridge
- Stage Center
- SandRidge Commons
- Myriad Gardens
- Boathouse District
- Bricktown and Automobile Alley

Each with some really great photos included.

And all this starts with an introduction written by some guy named Steve Lackmeyer (somehow, that name is vaguely familiar...)

This is really awesome stuff. I'm still working through the OKC sections -- haven't even gotten to Pittsburgh or Cleveland yet.

Kudos to those who put all this together. Very cool.
:cool:

Spartan
09-29-2012, 08:41 AM
I'll be honest, the accomplishments for OKC don't really seem to be in the same league as Cleveland or Pittsburgh. I mean, a head to head comparison of Cleveland's Uptown development with Classen Curve just highlights how laughable the latter is. There are so many incredibly momentous projects left out for Cleveland.. But I am surprised they left Deep Deuce out and had nary a mention of OKC's downtown housing boom, and also nothing about the Thunder or streetcar or other MAPS3, which I consider all of the most important points of OKC's current redevelopment.

The thing that struck me off about the Cleveland highlights is that they stay almost entirely in University Circle (the 2nd downtown) with no mention of anything on the westside, despite some really cool things over here. And despite the strong east side bias (this is a strong rivalry up here) no mention of any Case projects, though University Hospitals developments are technically Case..

Pete
09-29-2012, 09:12 AM
Thanks for sharing this. It seems Rand Elliott had a big influence on what they featured.

Should have left off Classen Curve and featured Automobile Alley, Midtown and Deep Deuce; all much, much more important and interesting.

CaptDave
09-29-2012, 09:20 AM
Despite any architectural significance, they definitely should have left Stage Center out since it's demise is imminent.

Rover
09-29-2012, 10:58 AM
I'll be honest, the accomplishments for OKC don't really seem to be in the same league as Cleveland or Pittsburgh. I mean, a head to head comparison of Cleveland's Uptown development with Classen Curve just highlights how laughable the latter is. There are so many incredibly momentous projects left out for Cleveland.. But I am surprised they left Deep Deuce out and had nary a mention of OKC's downtown housing boom, and also nothing about the Thunder or streetcar or other MAPS3, which I consider all of the most important points of OKC's current redevelopment.

The thing that struck me off about the Cleveland highlights is that they stay almost entirely in University Circle (the 2nd downtown) with no mention of anything on the westside, despite some really cool things over here. And despite the strong east side bias (this is a strong rivalry up here) no mention of any Case projects, though University Hospitals developments are technically Case..

I think sometimes we get very critical of things here because we are so familiar with them and take what is happening for granted. 10 years or so ago and for most of our history there was almost zero value placed on architetural design. We have always been a populist state where function and low cost has been emphasized over style. Because this is talking about "New Life" it is no wonder that we are included. We went from practically architecturally DEAD to now having a strong pulse. And I know some on here really don't care for Rand, but he has been very instrumental in breaking this city from its coma and has efforted to bring national and international attention to what is happening here. Likewise, Cleveland has been the industrial city pretty much uninspired. Cleveland has an advantage in that it has approximately 50% more metropolitan population and is 100+ years older than OKC. It SHOULD have more density and more urban centers, but it hasn't had much inspired architectural design.

PhiAlpha
09-29-2012, 05:35 PM
I would like to know when Cleveland andPittsburg began their downtown revitalizations. If you handicap OKC based on the other cities' size advantage and possibly beginning before OKC, I think our improvements may be equally impressive, especially given where we started.

Rover
09-29-2012, 07:13 PM
I would like to know when Cleveland andPittsburg began their downtown revitalizations. If you handicap OKC based on the other cities' size advantage and possibly beginning before OKC, I think our improvements may be equally impressive, especially given where we started.

Early 90s for each. Both had experienced periods of wealth and had more urban development than OKC and neither destructed their downtown like OKC.

CaptDave
09-29-2012, 07:43 PM
We must always remember the hole the city dug itself with the Pei plan destruction. In some ways it may have made it easier for new development, yet it destroyed most of the "urban" attributes of a very large part of downtown that could still be in use today. I think we need to give OKC a break when comparing ourselves to other cities and focus on the good things that are going on with the idea of maintaining the momentum that has been built over the past 15+ years. Unfortunately, it is going to take a lot more time to rebuild what was destroyed in a relatively short time.

Spartan
09-30-2012, 09:41 PM
I think sometimes we get very critical of things here because we are so familiar with them and take what is happening for granted. 10 years or so ago and for most of our history there was almost zero value placed on architetural design. We have always been a populist state where function and low cost has been emphasized over style. Because this is talking about "New Life" it is no wonder that we are included. We went from practically architecturally DEAD to now having a strong pulse. And I know some on here really don't care for Rand, but he has been very instrumental in breaking this city from its coma and has efforted to bring national and international attention to what is happening here. Likewise, Cleveland has been the industrial city pretty much uninspired. Cleveland has an advantage in that it has approximately 50% more metropolitan population and is 100+ years older than OKC. It SHOULD have more density and more urban centers, but it hasn't had much inspired architectural design.

What chou talkin bout Willis? Cleveland should have more density and urban centers, but doesn't feature much high design?? Nobody who's been here could legitimately claim that. University Circle is nothing but high design and every week I am discovering several new little urban centers, ala downtown Edmond or Norman scale..

Spartan
09-30-2012, 09:42 PM
Early 90s for each. Both had experienced periods of wealth and had more urban development than OKC and neither destructed their downtown like OKC.

Actually Pittsburgh was one of the nation's biggest urban renewal projects.

Just the facts
10-01-2012, 07:14 AM
I'll be honest, the accomplishments for OKC don't really seem to be in the same league as Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

I went to Winter Park on Saturday and it was disheartening to see how far OKC still has to go. It even gets more frustrating watching so-called ‘Town Centers’ and ‘Central Parks’ get built around OKC that are so disappointing in planning, design, and execution. It seems the only thing they get right is the name.

CaptDave
10-01-2012, 11:58 AM
I went to Winter Park on Saturday and it was disheartening to see how far OKC still has to go. It even gets more frustrating watching so-called ‘Town Centers’ and ‘Central Parks’ get built around OKC that are so disappointing in planning, design, and execution. It seems the only thing they get right is the name.

This is true in many ways, but there is a growing number of people here willing to fight the good fight; and we are starting to see good outcomes more often than in the past.

Spartan
10-01-2012, 06:24 PM
I went to Winter Park on Saturday and it was disheartening to see how far OKC still has to go. It even gets more frustrating watching so-called ‘Town Centers’ and ‘Central Parks’ get built around OKC that are so disappointing in planning, design, and execution. It seems the only thing they get right is the name.

This is a good point.

Tuscana
University North Park
Memorial Road in general
Westgate Marketplace's boom
Classen Curve
Moore's central park
Edmond's Hafer Park strip mall
Yukon's West End Pointe

The list goes on and on. A lot of OKC development is a huge disappointment. The only real lifestyle center we have is a tiny sliver in a much larger strip mall in MWC. Face the facts...our development is stuck in the 1990s.

Just the facts
10-01-2012, 06:53 PM
The only real lifestyle center we have is a tiny sliver in a much larger strip mall in MWC.

Even that is a total farce because it is a new urbanism illusion. Yes, they have the buildings pushed to the sidewalk and enclose a park, but acres of parking are lurking just behind the curtain and everyone still has to drive to get there.

Rover
10-01-2012, 09:54 PM
Which was about 65 years ago wasn't it? Wasn't New York City's Central Park one of the biggest and earliest?

Rover
10-01-2012, 09:56 PM
Which was about 65 years ago wasn't it? Wasn't New York City's Central Park one of the biggest and earliest?

(regarding post #10)

Spartan
10-02-2012, 10:50 PM
Which was about 65 years ago wasn't it? Wasn't New York City's Central Park one of the biggest and earliest?

(regarding post #10)

Urban renewal was a distinctive era for urban cities, just as city beautiful and the progressive era were.

bchris02
10-04-2012, 09:51 PM
This is a good point.

Tuscana
University North Park
Memorial Road in general
Westgate Marketplace's boom
Classen Curve
Moore's central park
Edmond's Hafer Park strip mall
Yukon's West End Pointe

The list goes on and on. A lot of OKC development is a huge disappointment. The only real lifestyle center we have is a tiny sliver in a much larger strip mall in MWC. Face the facts...our development is stuck in the 1990s.

I would say a lot of this has to do with the recession and national economy. Before the recession, there were quite a few lifestyle centers and new urbanism projects planned, but most of them were either cancelled or scaled back when the economy went off a cliff. Lifestyle centers are an '00s trend and it would be nice if OKC could get a nice one like Promenade at Chenal in Little Rock or Utica Square in Tulsa, but I just don't see it happening until the national economy recovers. Construction of these things have completely dried up in most areas and OKC just happens to be unlucky enough to not have had any already under construction before September 2008. Hopefully a real lifestyle center is something that comes with Core 2 Shore as it would be the perfect location. Even a small center like Pleasant Ridge in Little Rock would be nice somewhere in the city. I will have to say I do miss the lifestyle centers in Charlotte.

Just the facts
10-05-2012, 07:39 AM
These lifestyle centers, the list Spartan made and most of all the others around the US, are not getting it done. It isn't enough to make a new urbanism shopping center; we need new urbanism towns and neighborhoods.

There have been several recent examples provided and the main street looks great (like many traditional towns) but behind the scenes are acres of parking and almost everyone still has to drive to get there. Yes, many include what appears to be high density housing (multi story apartments) but if you divide the number of units by the total size of the project they are less dense than a typical subdivision. Even mall retrofits miss the boat almost entirely because they create an interior street grid and make it new urbanism style - and then totally disregard the existing arterial street that runs right by it.

CaptDave
10-05-2012, 08:46 AM
The trend of the "lifestyle center" in a parking lot is merely a continuation of bad development patterns disguised by putting up a neighborhood facade with the same wasteful suburban infrastructure hidden and required to reach these locations. But this is what you will get when developers are looking for the quick profit rather than building something timeless that will become a cornerstone of the community. I think we will eventually start seeing this trend change in OKC but it is going to take time, and a developer or two willing to take a chance, and then being rewarded for building something memorable. Patience, awareness, and optimism are our best attitudes because I think this city is going to get there, but it is going to take some time.

betts
10-05-2012, 09:00 AM
Sadly, it's hard to find new construction that isn't designed for a quick profit. On the other hand, isn't our society all about the quick profit,so should we be surprised? Renovation of existing buildings gives us the most timeless "new construction" and we don't have many of those to renovate. Although they haven't been commercially successful, I'm going to at least say "thank you" to Ron Bradshaw for my development: Maywood Park. There has been a lot of criticism of the planning and prices, which aren't really any higher than any other prices for new townhouse/condominium construction downtown, in Crown Heights and off Western (can't remember the neighborhood name). That's criticism which I don't think is deserved. I won't be around to say "I told you so", but I predict that 100 years from now they will still be renovatable and might be one of the few current downtown projects still standing.

Just the facts
10-05-2012, 09:20 AM
I am not even opposed to new construction - I would just like to see it done using the existing street grid more. Nothing makes me cringe more than new urbanist shopping centers on the suburban fringe surrounded by 40 acres of parking lots.

Someone recently identified Easton Town Center in Columbus, OH as neat development. When you are on the main street it looks great. Very walkable, stores with display windows facing the street, people on the sidewalks, light strung across the street to create festive atmosphere, etc... Then you zoom out and you see the thousands of parking spaces. Then you zoom out more and see that it doesn't even interact with the area around it. Then you zoom out more and find that it is miles from most houses. No one is ever going to walk to it.

Why is something that humans have been doing for 10,000 years so damn hard to replicate now? Tuscana was billed as a $600 million to $800 million project. Could you magine what would be possible if someone poured $600 million into the Plaza District, Paseo, and Capitol Hill.

CaptDave
10-05-2012, 09:23 AM
Just a mall without a roof.....

CaptDave
10-05-2012, 11:11 AM
Related to this topic, there is an event tonight at the Devon Boathouse called "Investing in a Sense of Place". It is moderated by Neal Conan from "Talk of the Nation" and sponsored by StateImpact Oklahoma.

Has anyone heard anything about this "Community Conversation" or Mr Conan? Anyone else planning to attend?

http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/events/

Spartan
10-07-2012, 05:46 PM
I would say a lot of this has to do with the recession and national economy. Before the recession, there were quite a few lifestyle centers and new urbanism projects planned, but most of them were either cancelled or scaled back when the economy went off a cliff. Lifestyle centers are an '00s trend and it would be nice if OKC could get a nice one like Promenade at Chenal in Little Rock or Utica Square in Tulsa, but I just don't see it happening until the national economy recovers. Construction of these things have completely dried up in most areas and OKC just happens to be unlucky enough to not have had any already under construction before September 2008. Hopefully a real lifestyle center is something that comes with Core 2 Shore as it would be the perfect location. Even a small center like Pleasant Ridge in Little Rock would be nice somewhere in the city. I will have to say I do miss the lifestyle centers in Charlotte.

OKC is probably the largest metro without a decent lifestyle center. Even Tulsa, Birmingham, etc have great ones. No excuse.

Spartan
10-07-2012, 05:48 PM
I am not even opposed to new construction - I would just like to see it done using the existing street grid more. Nothing makes me cringe more than new urbanist shopping centers on the suburban fringe surrounded by 40 acres of parking lots.

Someone recently identified Easton Town Center in Columbus, OH as neat development. When you are on the main street it looks great. Very walkable, stores with display windows facing the street, people on the sidewalks, light strung across the street to create festive atmosphere, etc... Then you zoom out and you see the thousands of parking spaces. Then you zoom out more and see that it doesn't even interact with the area around it. Then you zoom out more and find that it is miles from most houses. No one is ever going to walk to it.

Why is something that humans have been doing for 10,000 years so damn hard to replicate now? Tuscana was billed as a $600 million to $800 million project. Could you magine what would be possible if someone poured $600 million into the Plaza District, Paseo, and Capitol Hill.

You should check out Crocker Park in Westlake, OH.

Just the facts
10-11-2012, 07:00 AM
You should check out Crocker Park in Westlake, OH.

That is exactly what I am talking about Spartan. The development is pretty dense and has multiple parking decks that eliminate the acres of surface parking (although there is some of that to) and they even have a Main St. BUT - and this is a really big BUT, they should have built it along Crocker Road. This whole project should be 500 east of where it is now. Instead of using the existing roads that were already in place, they just built a new urbanism shopping center. It should have been done like Orange, CA (just go to Google Earth and search on Orange, CA and zoom in) or Worth Ave in Palm Beach where not only is it integrated into the community, it IS the community.

When you drive along NW16 and enter the Plaza District, it isn't something that is 30 feet off to one side of the road with all the urbanism off the beaten path. You don't drive by the Plaza District - you drive through it. It is on both sides of the road - you can't miss it. That is what the new urbanist should focus on. Rehabing old shopping centers is great but the transit corridors are where the urbanism should be focused.

Spartan
10-12-2012, 01:06 PM
I don't know how much you found doing Internet research, but Crocker Park is amazing, and you don't want to have anything to do with the snarled traffic nightmare at Crocker and Detroit (Which is literally at 30000 W. Detroit, as in 300th Street). I go there frequently just to hang out in the Barnes & Noble, or get food/drinks with friends and take it into the park--which has all these great interactive art pieces, chess boards (and a life-size chess board that little kids fight each other with lol), live music, pretzel/ice cream/etc vendors, and other cool stuff. They also have H&M and just about every retailer you need to remind you just how awful and overpriced UO really is (and OKC is screaming for one?).. right now they're expanding outward with a lot of new townhomes that are almost identical to the Maywood Brownstones we hold so dear.

In a class that I'm a TA for, the students bring up Crocker Park a lot. There's another really big, popular lifestyle center on the other side of town called Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, OH (big Jewish area). The people on the eastside really gravitate to Legacy, which only has surface parking that is separated from the village setting, and you can tell that lay folk clearly understand the difference in quality and function with structured and surface parking. Crocker Park is regarded as one of the best attractions in Northeast Ohio whereas Legacy is really "just another damn shopping center" that people only go to because they don't want to spend an hour getting across town.

I agree that the location for Crocker is less than ideal. However in this case, moving it up against the main arterial would make it worse. It should have been built around a rapid station..the transit authority is trying to get TOD going around all of the commuter rail stations, but most of them have been slow going. Crocker would have been perfect for that, and considering that Cleveland ranks in the top ten nationally for transit use by the non-poor, it would have meant a lot more casual traffic. However the development has been very successful either way.