February 2009 Archive

The Flatiron

February 27th, 2009

Thought you might enjoy seeing the new video of The Flatiron project being developed by Humphreys Company.  In case you didn’t already know, the Humphreys Company is headed up by my brother Grant and father Kirk.  They are working on some really exciting developments including the adaptive re-use of this historic flatiron building.  I have also posted an email sent out by Grant (with his permission) letting you know how the economy is affecting the development schedule and how you can help get this project going.  Check it out and if you are interested then follow the link to their site and find out more.

Have a great weekend!


The Flatiron: Oklahoma City, OK from imagiNATIVEamerica on Vimeo.



From: Grant Humphreys
Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2009 5:03 PM
Subject: THE FLATIRON – A SYMBOL OF RESILIENCE – of our downtown, of our city, of our Oklahoma spirit

Across the nation, the economic crisis has forced many development projects to be put on hold or brought to an end. Yet Oklahoma City, despite some very real economic downturns, continues to prove itself as one of the most resilient markets in America.

After almost three years of design and due diligence, our project known as ‘The Flatiron’ is poised to become a reality. When the construction of this project begins at the gateway of downtown OKC, The Flatiron will deliver the message that Oklahoma City is still in the game. Watching this new 5-story mixed-use project be built will boost confidence in our market and help maintain or increase property values as well. No doubt the Devon Tower will deliver this same message around the world, but we’re the small business version that is ready to go. But we need YOUR help.

We need YOUR help to meet our pre-leasing hurdle. The Flatiron will create more than 73,000 RSF of Class ‘A’ office and retail space ideally located at the gateway to downtown, Bricktown and the Oklahoma Health Center. Our asking rates are $22/RSF (gross) for loft office and $22/RSF (net) for street level retail (with CPI bumps). We need credit tenants willing to sign a 5-year lease. Local tenants are great. Once we’ve pre-leased 50% of this space, we will move towards an exciting groundbreaking event. We want to work with brokers. So bring me a deal. With your help, we can meet this goal . . . and you’ll be the first invited to the party!

All the information you need is available online at www.flatironokc.com. You can find floor plans, marketing brochures and a video of the project. Make a point to watch the video. It’s awesome.

Dave Ortloff, our Director of Marketing, is handling the broker relations. He’s here for you. If you’d like to arrange a tour or receive more information about this exciting project, just call Dave at (405) 228-1000 (ext 4). His contact information is also on the website referenced above.

Let’s work together to show everyone that, despite the rest of the nation, the real estate market in Oklahoma City is alive and well. I appreciate your help!



Find out more by visiting their website at: FlatironOkc.com!

Daily Links

February 27th, 2009

Quote of the Week

February 26th, 2009

“Despite all reports to contrary, there are a lot more people in your community who want to walk a lot more than they are able to. I take the approach that much of most cities is not walkable. It only takes a small core of truly excellent urbanism to create the beginning of a new walking culture, to give a city a reputation for walkability.”

Jeff Speck

Daily Links

February 26th, 2009

Improving Public Participation: Thank you Mr. Claus!

February 25th, 2009

A while back we discussed some ways to improve public participation in Oklahoma City.  I think some good ideas came out of the discussion and have been hoping that the ideas would be considered at City Hall.  Still, often it is hard to tell whether the decision-makers take note of this blog, or anything else posted on the internet for that matter (except you Steve, we know they read OKCCentral).   I have often wondered if time spent writing formal letters and making phone calls would be more effective at getting things done, but abandoned this course of action because 1. it is boring 2. lacks transparency and 3. feel that the web is a superior medium for communicating ideas.  Ultimately, it will have to be the decision-makers that adapt to the new ways of communicating with constituents that are made possible by the web.  And some of OKC’s decision-makers are already ahead of the game!  I must say that I was quite pleased when Russell Claus, Director of the Oklahoma City Planning Department, dropped by the site to contribute to the discussion with the following comment:

Duly noted. ensuring a better web site is a high priority of mine, and a lot of your suggestions coincide with my own ideas for improvement. But, as you would appreciate, spare staff time to manage this is at an extreme premium. I’m trying to rectify this with the addition of an outreach position, something I’ve included in my last 3 years budget requests. I consider an effective citizen communications program an essential for any planning department and hopefully, I can make that happen soon. I apologize for the deficiencies in the interim. Thanks for everyone’s input

I consider Russell a good friend.  I had the pleasure of interning under him in the Planning Department’s Urban Redevelopment Division and think the city did well to promote him to Director.  I believe him when he says that these things are a priority and look forward to seeing public participation improve during his tenure.  With the challenges of implementing new systems and hiring new people at a time when the economy is hurting and municipalities are having to shrink budgets, we may have to wait a while to see all of this come about.

In the meantime, I will again offer to map the agenda items for free (as I did in the comments on 1/15):

I will definitely pledge to make a Google map of every agenda from this point forward in 2009 if the city will give me the information in a spreadsheet format I can use…

I think this single change could make for a significant improvement and lead to a number of new participants in the public process.  Though admittedly, depending on how the information is currently formatted, preparing the information in the spreadsheet may require city staff time that is just not available.

Either way, when city leaders enter into a dialagoue with consituents – be it in person or online – public participation can only be improved.  So thank you Mr. Claus!

Daily Links

February 25th, 2009

Analyzing Pedestrian Movement in the Public Realm

February 24th, 2009

Pedestrian path movement can be analyzed using video reworked with computer animation software.

More often than not, cars follow the paths prescribed by traffic engineers but pedestrians are a different story.  Many pedestrians venture outside the lines, whether to save time, energy, or take a route for which a path is not provided.  In some cases, these improvised pedestrian routes can be identified by the dirt path that develops through repeated use – this usually a clear sign that there is a problem with the form and paths provided.  But in most cases, we fail to sufficiently understand pedestrian behavior and design in ways that exhibit this lack of understanding.

That said, there are a number of ways in which this gap in the analysis can be filled.  I previously mentioned the possibilities of new gps-enabled handheld phones, which would be suitable for a downtown scale route and origin-destination analysis.  Also, Jan Gehl has a done a lot of work studying pedestrian behavior and developed a process that utilizes teams manually recording a number of important behavior factors.  And here (above image) is one method of tracking pedestrian movement – from pedestrianlevitation.net – that uses video reworked with computer animation software.

It is hard to study pedestrian behavior in cities without an ample supply of pedestrians.  But it is a historic lack of understanding and adequate attention that has created this dilemma.  The more attention we give to an analysis of pedestrians and the way they interact with the city, the more appropriate our design solutions will be, resulting in an increase in pedestrian users over time.

Right now there is very little (i.e. zero) analysis of this type taking place in Oklahoma City.  This is unfortunate but expected from a city that long ago decided to focus only on mobility as it relates to automobiles.  Hopefully, public works will begin to treat pedestrian issues like they matter, developing a process for analyzing circulation at least within active areas where pedestrian-friendliness is a stated priority (e.g. Downtown and Bricktown).  It might even be interesting to do “traffic counts” in the Underground to see how many pedestrians we are keeping off the streets.

But until that happens we can do some rudimentary analysis by identifying where pedestrian circulation problems are shown to exists – dirt paths.  So does anyone know of any dirt paths in Downtown or Bricktown?  I can think of a few, but am hoping you all can chime in with some examples I don’t know.

Daily Links

February 23rd, 2009
  • Using public donor information, eightmaps.com maps the addresses of donors who gave money to the campaign for a California state consitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

    This use of technology is known as “gay mashing”…j/k

  • ARCHITECTS may need only to point at a building to explain to their children what they do. Planners aren’t so lucky.

    In fact, unless airplane windows are involved, it’s probably a struggle to describe how they map out roads, stores and homes to form neighborhoods. A new children’s book may help shed light at a time when interest in the field seems to be growing…

  • Let’s get ready to R U M B L E ! The evening of Tuesday, February 17, 2009, was a big big night for OKC Thunder fans … not only was our first love in town to play against our new and more enduring love, it was also announced to be the evening of the unveiling of the Thunder’s new mascot.
  • Rocket Jones asks Google for driving directions from Seattle to Honolulu.

    And gets them.

    (tags: maps funny)
  • “Because L.A. is always changing, Mapping L.A. will change with it. As communities gain in size or importance, or diminish, we’ll reflect those changes in these maps. But, in contrast to the past, the boundaries we recognize today will not be lost. Every time we move a city block from one community to another, we’ll keep a record of the original map that can be republished any time it’s needed. We’ll also keep a log of changes on the site for use by anyone seeking to trace the city’s evolution.”

Year 2050: Day in the Life of Panorama Station

February 22nd, 2009

Hey everyone!  Here is another piece of our 2009 ULI Urban Design Competition proposal that was named one of four finalists competing for the $50,000 first prize.  We were asked to come up with a single tabloid sheet describing a day in the life of the project in the year 2050.

I decided to use a comic book format to tell the story.  First I put together some basic perspectives for each scene and then used a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator techniques to produce the “comic book” look and feel.  The information is structured using the same heirarchy found in our “15 minute car-free lifestyle” diagram.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

Daily Links

February 22nd, 2009