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Commercial Spaces

The Lost Tower

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C Caleb Long

The Bank Of Oklahoma tower located in downtown Tulsa would come as a surprise to anyone previously unaware of it.  The tower looks startlingly like the towers that stood at the world trade center site in New York City until their destruction in 2001, but of course that was the whole point.  The Bank of Oklahoma Tower was built in 1975 by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect who designed the twin towers in New York City.  The tower was built by commission of John Williams the CEO of Williams Companies to be a scale replica half the size of the original towers.  However there are a few design features that are not quite the same, for example the arches of the lobby level are big and round unlike the Venetian Gothic ogees, in the original design that flow directly into the columns which made up exterior of the towers.  Coming in at 203 m in height the Bank Of Oklahoma tower and its 52 stories is currently the tallest building in the upper midwest plains.

Currently the towers are undergoing about $16 million worth of renovation work with $6 million earmarked for pedestrian bridges and a granite coating for the base, along with windows, lots of windows.  The Williams company plans to replace every window on the eighth through forty-ninth floors.

The original design for The Bank Of Oklahoma Tower  was actually just a small set of towers each coming in at 25 stories, a pair of quarter scale replicas.  However John Williams is said to have altered the design by taking Minoru Yamasaki’s pair of towers and putting one on top of the other.  Some information suggests that part of the reason for this was that due to the amount of space required for the service core vs. the total floor area of each floor was not cost effective.  Due to this change that the Bank Of Oklahoma tower lacks the defining characteristic of the original world trade center site, its twin.

It’s interesting that not many people seem to recognize this tower as a remaining descendant of the original world trade center, but as a standalone with a different base the tower becomes less distinguishable from other office buildings.  It’s likely that if the building had been built in a manner more faithful to the original world trade center design, the Bank of Oklahoma Tower would have captured more attention.

For more Info: Wiki, The Believer, Tulsa World.

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