LIVE From Frank Lloyd Wright’s ONLY Skyscraper | 440 | The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. A Very Special Place

When I first moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I mentioned in the show that something I was most excited about was seeing new things that many if not most have never seen. There was something on my list from day one and I finally had the chance to go and do this. Visit Price Tower. For those not familiar; The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma is an absolutely exquisite creation of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is constructed of concrete in a very unique shape. Four quadrants based on the geometry of  a 30-60-90 double parallelogram.  It was based on the idea for a Manhattan cluster of buildings designed and then scraped in 1929 due to the great depression. The Price Tower was designed and built for Harold C. Price to serve as the headquarters for his oil and gas pipeline company. The building was designed to be mixed-use and was opened to the public in February, 1956. 

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Materials Used: The building is primarily made of concrete with heavy use of wood, copper and other materials regularly found in Wright’s work. heavy use of copper, stamped concrete in Cherokee Red can be found alongside the natural wood and use of greens and golds. The wallpaper used as well as fabrics designed for Schumacher as part of his Taliesin line can be found as well as his unique style of lighting and a significant amount of art are all present. There are unique pieces present that were designed and then sent to local companies to create. They include cast aluminum chairs by the Blue Stem Foundry

Mixed Use. What makes this building unlike any other example of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture is that this is a “skyscraper”, to be considered by him and others as the only one he ever built. FLW was interested with how people lived. His definition for a skyscraper was not dissimilar to how streets showcase horizontal society, this was made to be vertical an accomplish similar purpose. As such, this was his example of a live/ work environment and incorporated many floors to serve as separate zones for separate purposes. Because the building is supported by the four elevator towers and not the floors themselves, FLW was able to imagine the space almost like a tree with the elevator columns as trunk, floors as branches and copper installation as leaves.

My Experience: This visit was amazing for me. I received an incredible tour by a gentleman named Price Connors and later sat down  with Price for an interview which you are about to hear. If you check out the show notes, you will find links to some IG reels showcasing video from this visit. Of note, check out how FLW wanted you to live in the spaces he creates. Check out the amazing views and try to imagine as I did that you were in a tree house, because that is how it felt to me.

The day I visited, I learned that the building has been sold to Copper Tree, Inc. for the debt and a $10M promise to refurbish the building. I had never heard of Copper Tree and thought, what a unique name for a company interested in refurbishing this particular building. I did a little digging and learned that Copper Tree is a relatively new company, an investment company created for the purpose of acquiring and preserving iconic buildings.

I sat down with Price Connors who is an absolute wealth of knowledge and who both gave e a guided tour of The Price Tower, and sat down for an extensive interview about this truly unique project. I hope you enjoy hearing from Connors as much as I enjoyed speaking with him. For images and video shorts from my time at The Price Tower, visit us on Instagram, @convoxdesign with an “x”. You are going to hear from Price Connors, right after this.

What an absolutely amazing experience. Thank you everyone at The Price Tower for making the visit possible. Thank you Price for speaking with me and the amazing tour. My hope here was to share this extraordinary piece of American architecture with you. I know that many if not most in the US have no plans to visit Bartlesville, Oklahoma and I imagine it even more challenging for our international listeners.  I do encourage you to check out the videos, images and extra content on Instagram, @convoxdesign with an “x”. Thank you for listening, until next week, be well and take today first. -CXD