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. 

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

The Oasis Alliance – Providing design to those in need.

ICAA Southern California – SoCal is Southern California’s preeminent resource on classical architecture and the allied arts.

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

American Made By Hand: Brad Glock at the Intersection of Art & Nature

I’m Josh Cooperman and this is Convo By Design. After 10 years doing this show, I am still happy to say that I love doing it. If I’m being completely honest, it’s not because I am surprised and delighted by the design. I am, but that’s not why. I have grown accustomed to seeing extraordinary design and architecture. Spectacular new products, amazingly talented creatives doing the work. But it is the people and their stories that keep me in a childlike state of wonder. That is why I continue to love doing this show the way I do. And today’s episode is no different. This is part of a series called American Made By Hand and it features a friend, Brad Glock who turns wood into exquisite pieces of Americana. And you are about to hear his story.

Designer Resources

ThermaSol – Redefining the modern shower experience. Episode 271 featuring Mitch Altman

Moya Living  Beautiful, durable powder coated kitchen, bath & outdoor kitchen cabinetry

Design Hardware – A stunning and vast collection of jewelry for the home!

I met Brad while learning to turn myself, something I have wanted to do for a very long time. After moving to Oklahoma to work on the design house, I had the chance to do that and Brad was one of the instructors. Turning is like any other passion or endeavor, you have to love doing it and the skill and art follow, as is the case with Brad. His work is amazing. As always, you can check the show notes for links to Brad’s work, but what is to follow is my conversation with Brad as part of a new series I’m starting called American Made By Hand. As the best designers know, if you’re accessorizing, clients want the story, the provenance, an understanding of the meaning behind products and materials they are bringing into their homes. Brad is an artist, and a craftsman. Years ago, you might recall me speaking with Rossoblu chef and restauranteur Steve Samson who explained that he was a craftsman, not an artist. He could make something you’ve eaten before in Northern Italy, and it would taste like his grandmother’s grandmother made it, but he doesn’t create new work. That left an indelible mark on my brain. It did. A desire not to create, but recreate with exactness… Amazing. But, Brad is an artist and a craftsman. He innovates using wood, a lathe and other items as they materialize.

I had an idea, I asked Brad to work with me to create a custom tableware set for the Tulsa Remote Design House Project. We ideated, designed it and he turned it. I did sand though, and I have a scar to prove it. That is a story for another day. I consider Brad a friend and I am thrilled, truly to share his story with you. This is Brad Glock on Convo By Design’s, American Made: By Hand.

Thank you, Brad. Love your work and I cannot wait to share images of this incredible tableware set. A side note, this collection is available for purchase, not this exact one, but one of your own, customized just for your project. Make sure to contact me directly. Message me @ConvoXDesign or email me at Convo By Design at Outlook dot com.

Thank you to my partners and sponsors ThermaSol, Moya Living and Design Hardware. You can find direct links to them and to Brad in the show notes. Thank you for listening and subscribing to the show. Remember why you do what you do and for whom you do it. I appreciate you, I do this for you. Be well and until next week, take today first.

The Magic City of Tulsa, Oklahoma | 314 | A World Class Architecture and Design City with a Memory and A Heart

This is Convo By Design with a two part special about The Magic City…Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In the 1920’s, Tulsa Oklahoma was called the ‘magic city’ because of the things that were happening as a result of the oil boom. The Cushing Field was discovered at the beginning of the 1900’s which saw the population explode from  just over 7,000 in 1907 to over 72,000 in 1920. Names like Waite Phillips, J. Paul, Getty, Henry Sinclair  and John D. Rockefeller came to Tulsa and built a world-class city around the oil industry, and creating companies like Texaco and Phillips 66. With the influx of money and came high-society, culture and the arts along side extraordinary architecture and design. 

It wasn’t just rich white money. Black Wall Street was within the highly successful, self-contained black community of Greenwood. This is a success story with a horrific ending that resulted in the Greenwood Massacre. To understand how this happened, one needs to fully understand that Black Wall Street, as it was called, wasn’t isolated, it was a community crafted out of necessity and developed into a highly functioning community of black-owned, black-run businesses, by design. O.W. Gurley, a wealthy man of color bought 40 acres of land and called it Greenwood. He and others created a center of commerce built by and for the black community and it is a success story with a tragic ending. After years of success, and years of publicly, well documented jealousy, the result was the Black Wall Street Massacre which saw the entire community destroyed by a white mob. 36 Greenwood residents lost their lives, 800 were injured, 6,000 were held unlawfully and the entire community was burned to the ground.  If interested in the whole story, which is an incredible and tragic story will be linked here. And today, you can find influences of Black Wall Street imbued within the city itself through design and architecture.  

This is not the end of the story and there is so much to explore in how Tulsans have respected the Black Wall Street story and are making sure it is told to future generations much of which can be seen through the design and architecture. Speaking of architecture, this AMAZING art deco and mid-century modern, the gothic cathedrals and a city plan straight out of mid-town Manhattan. This is part of the story of Tulsa, an amazing story and one I wanted to share with you from the architecture, design and city planning perspective. To understand the origin and evolution of Tulsa, I spoke with two community experts, Grant Bumgarner with an organization called Tulsa Remote and architect Ted Reeds, both of whom know this city and her history intimately. 

Grant Bumgarner is Community Manager with Tulsa Remote. If not familiar, Tulsa Remote is a community development program designed to bring talented people to Tulsa, Oklahoma. People who work remotely that can bring a fresh perspective to the city. This two-year old initiative will be further explained by Grant. This is a story about regrowing a (formerly) modern city, city planning with people at the center of moving forward smartly into the future.  I love studying American cities. I am a huge fan of cities like Austin, Texas…Memphis, Tennessee and yes, Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can learn a lot about how cities respect their past and nurture their future. Some of the most successful cities are those that respect their past and keep an eye on ever moving forward and Tulsa is one of those. You have no doubt heard about Tulsa recently, and for all the wrong reasons. The Trail of Tears, the destruction of Black Wall and massacre of its residents. This city has a mixed past and you are going to hear about much of it. You are also going to hear about a city that was built on some of the countries best architecture. 

You heard me correctly, some of America’s best Art Deco architecture is in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of these structures is the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, designed by master architect and prodigy, Bruce Goff. Goff has significant SoCal ties as well. He designed the Al Strucks House, if not familiar, search it…this house is… extremely interesting. Goff also designed the Japanese Art Pavilion at LACMA, a legendary structure that, for me, is in the collection of significant Los Angeles architecture. But back to Tulsa. I visited the city and Grant gave me a walking tour of the city. We had a chance to reconnect and talk.

By the way, are you subscribing to the podcast, if not, please do so you get every episode automatically when they are published. You can find Convo By Design everywhere you find your favorite podcasts and now, you can find us on DesignNetwork dot Org, a destination dedicated to podcasts, all things design and architecture so make sure to check it out.

Ted Reeds is an architect and adjunct professor of architecture at the Christopher C. Gibbs School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma. Ted is president of his eponymous firm and one of those amazing storytellers you are instantly happy with whom you’ve found yourself connected. I have often shared my opinion that architecture is  language while design is storytelling. Ted is the rare architect that has mastered the storytelling within the architecture which is probably why he was so much fun to speak with. Ted and I spoke by phone and discussed some of the amazing structures in and around Tulsa.

In this episode, you are going to hear about…

1. The Vault within the 320 Building (First National Bank of Tulsa)

2. The Vault Restaurant & Bar – One of the first drive—thru banks

3. The Gathering Place – A 70 acre private park gift to the city of Tulsa. Designed by Landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburg. The banks of the Arkansas River is public land.

4. Cathedral District, one of 5 downtown districts. Multiple churches, Boston Avenue Methodist Church, designed by Bruce Goff. Goff also built the Al Struckus House, one of LA’s most unique homes and Japanese Art Pavilion at LACMA. Bruce Goff controversy.

5. Black Wall Street

6. Guthrie Green

7. Union Depot

8. The Mother Road

9. Tulsa’s 5 Districts

10. Sinclair Building addition

11. Waite Phillips, father of modern Tulsa, Phil Tower and Philcade, Beginning of mixed use. Style of Philcade, vertical lines and dramatic shadows. All that gold! Talk about the cornucopia.

Enjoy this story about Tulsa, Oklahoma…The Magic City.

Thank you, Ted and Grant for both the tour and the chat. I cannot wait to get back to Tulsa. For images from my walking tour with Grant, check out the Convo By Design website and Instagram. You will also find links to the George Kaiser Foundation to see what they do and check out the Gathering Place. Thank you, Walker Zanger for your support of Convo By Design and thank you for listening to the show. Please make sure you subscribe so you get every episode of the podcast the moment it’s published. Until next week, be well and take today first.