November 20th, 2009

This is great news for downtown, particularly Film Row and west Main Street.

Upcoming MAPS 3 Events That You Should Attend

November 15th, 2009

ULI logo

ULI|Oklahoma Young Leaders MAPS 3 Forum

DATE: Monday, November 16th, 2009

TIME: 5:00-7:00pm

LOCATION: ARTSPACE @ Untitled | 1 NE 3rd | click for map

WHO: free to members AND non-members

PARKING: available on-street, at Ruedy’s Auto Shop across the street, and at Santa Fe garage

ABOUT: The Young Leaders Group of Urban Land Institute Oklahoma invite you to MAPS 3 Young Professional’s Forum featuring the Mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett. The forum is open to all ULI members, as well as all central Oklahoma young professionals. The forum is designed to educate voters on the MAPs 3 package prior to the December 8th public vote.

Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided. The event is free for members and non-members.

Please register online, so that we have an accurate count for catering purposes.



Citizen Forum on Public Transit

DATE: Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

TIME: starts at 7:00pm

LOCATION: OKC Museum of Art | Theatre Auditorium | click for map

WHO: free for everyone

ABOUT: Visual presentation followed by Q&A with a 12 person expert panel!

Daily Links

November 11th, 2009
  • Most of Project 180 is a direct spin-off of construction of a $750 million, 50-story new headquarters for Devon Energy Corp. being built immediately north of Myriad Gardens.

    Devon Energy could have sought to use much of the related tax increment financing for expansion of a garage and infrastructure. Instead, its CEO, Larry Nichols, asked that the funds improve downtown.

    The catch, as mentioned last week, is that the city is trying to finish much of the project by the tower’s completion in 2012. A large group of city planners and engineers, designers, property owners and downtown architects met to discuss planned improvements in the 10th floor meeting room in the city’s office annex at 420 W Main.

  • I think anyone can do the math that if we are going to design a new streetlight for a 21st century downtown OKC, we are going to need an appropriate amount of time and we’re already a year into knowing we need improved streetlights. Can Oklahoma City match what NYC produced? Yes, and this shouldn’t be a question. If it is, there are bigger issues at stake regarding talent retention, creative knowledge base, etc.

    But, there is one thing that keeps pulling at me. The job of the street lamp is to illuminate the activity on the sidewalks and roadways below. The streetlamps are very important, but I believe the bigger question is the one Steve posed at the very start:

    Will OKC be innovative with its downtown streets?

    When I read that question, it has more to do with what is being illuminated on and in the streets than what is happening above it.

Projection on Buildings

November 10th, 2009

I am currently intrigued by the potential for projection technology to add interest to the urban environment. These are a couple examples I have found. I am sure I will add more – stay tuned.

Bike Commuting Up 26% in NYC

November 9th, 2009

With the help of over 200 miles of new bike lanes in the last three years, New York City boosted bicycle commuting ridership by another 26% this past year for a combined 66% in the past two years. For more details check out Streetsblog.

Quote of the Week

November 9th, 2009

“Americans are too impatient. They expect instant beauty. But they forget that cities are not built in one day. We may spend years agonizing over a renewal project and then we expect the city to be rebuilt instantly. Can you imagine what Paris must have looked like when Baron Haussmann finished with it? The social and cultural shock must have been tremendous. It’s like surgery; it takes a long time for the tissue around a wound to heal. The city has to echo life. If our life is rough and tumble, so is the city. I’ve always felt that ugliness with vitality is tolerable. The great danger our cities face today is that their vitality will be sapped by too much concern for instant beauty. New York is not a beautiful city. It may even be ugly, but it is exciting. It draws beauty from its vitality. If you drove all the residents out and made it a gleaming commercial center, it would only be beautiful in a narrow sense. It would be lifeless, and therefore intolerable.”

I.M. Pei, consulting architect of OKC’s 1965 Urban Renewal Plan

(via Steve Lackmeyer)

Daily Links

November 3rd, 2009
  • Urban Sketchers (USk) is a network of artists around the world who draw the cities where they live and travel to. We have this blog, which is by invitation, and a Flickr group where anyone can share their location drawings. USk was started by Seattle journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario.
  • The [Not This MAPS] group is opposing the $777 million, seven-year, penny sales tax issue mainly because of what the package of capital improvement projects doesn’t have: more emergency response personnel, said Phil Sipe, president-elect of the International Association of Firefighters Local 157 and chairman of the coalition. Not This Maps Coalition otherwise supports MAPS 3.
    But if the issue is passed by voters Dec. 8, he said, the likelihood of securing additional funding to hire firefighters and police officers any time in the next several years severely decreases. So the group is trying to convince city leaders to postpone the question to allow for more consideration.

    “We still hold out hope that we can come to some kind of last-minute resolution of the staffing issues that we have,” Sipe said. “So we’re not entirely resigned about running a campaign against it…

Geoff Parker is Sketching Oklahoma City

November 3rd, 2009


Just found out that Geoff Parker, local architect and sketch master, has started posting some of his work on the web.  I have known Geoff for some time and am a fan of both the person and the talent.  His stuff is very cool!  I wanted to repost it all, but settled on this analytique and figured if you want more you can visit his blog and see for yourself.


Rambled thoughts on Architecture, Urbanity, and the 7th Generation

November 1st, 2009

Oklahoma City Pei Plan (source: Doug Loudenback)

This morning, I read this old article at OKC Central about a architecture critic’s visit to Oklahoma City and comments on the City’s efforts back in the 1960s through 1980s with interest.

While some of what the critic Hiroshi Watanabe said sounded well-reasoned and has proven to be largely correct (praising Bricktown, the potential of the Myriad Gardens, etc), one thing that sticks out, both in regards to the efforts of I.M. Pei that preceded the critics visit and to the comments by Watanabe on the quality of the setbacks and plazas surrounding downtown office buildings, is the influence of architectural trends and the general lack of urban understanding.  Simply put: a good architect does not necessarily equate to a good urbanist. In fact, many renowned architects are very poor urbanists with destructive tendencies when given an opportunity to work at too great a scale. Along these lines, an interesting debate has been taking place between proponents of Frank Gehry and members of the more Jane Jacobs minded (actually, more accurately, William Whyte minded) Project for Public Spaces (PPS).  The debate was sparked by a question about the quality of public space provided by Gehry buildings asked by Fred Kent, head of PPS and a recent speaker at the Oklahoma City Mayor’s Development Roundtable, at a symposium in Aspen; to which Gerhy responded, if at all, with a pompous disregard that astounded some in attendance.

In the end, a great city has to be a collective effort.  Architects certainly have a tremendous amount to contribute to the conversation and to the overall aesthetic.  Planners, urban designers, engineers, real estate developers, etc – also all have much to contribute to shaping the ultimate urban environment.  But none of these professions, or any other profession for that matter, should wholly dictate the detailed form of the urban environment at a broad scale.  Ultimately, an eclectic mix of many persons contributions; spread out over decades or centuries of the technologies and styles of generations; creates the type of city that I consider great.  In truth, I am concerned more with creating a framework that will sustain and grow a great city for a long time to come. Key decisions about the overall framework of city development have given us the cities we see today, even if we did not know the importance of those decisions at the time.    The  seventh generation approach is interesting to consider when making major decisions that will impact the historical, current, and future urban environment:

“Oren Lyons observes that the first mandate of traditional Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] chiefs is to ensure that their decision-making is guided by consideration of the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come:

‘What about the seventh generation? Where are you taking them? What will they have? (Lyons 1980, p. 174).’

“The seventh generation principle applies to the ancestors as well. In honoring the ancestors, one expresses gratitude to them as the seventh generation, which they kept foremost in their decision making and for whom they sacrificed.

What types of projects or policies will do the most to serve and respect future generations?  What projects and policies may hinder future generations? I have some ideas of my own, but would rather hear what you think.  Thoughts?

Young, Creative, and Philanthropic – these people deserve some help

October 29th, 2009

Norman Bikeshare

A few months back I was fortunate enough to come across the work of Tate James.  He has studied graphic design at OU and clearly has a gift.  In fact, I liked one of his works so much I bought it, and am just waiting to get settled somewhere with enough wall space to show it off.  All this to say, the kid (as if I am old enough to call anyone a kid) is brilliant and a huge asset to the burgeoning young, creative community forming in the Oklahoma City metro – especially Norman.

Fast forward a few months, and one twitter follow later, and I have another reason to give it up to the guy.  I just found out that he and his friends have been operating a community bike co-op in Norman.   This story at offers up details of their work.  They have given away their time to help fix people’s bikes, donated their own parts, and even refurbished some donated bikes and have made them available to the community for people in need of some wheels.  They also started a wiki map to locate dangerous bike grates in hopes of getting them replaced.  Remember when I blogged about bike-sharing via B-Cycle (by the way, we are currently #2 and our OKC dot is still up near Ponca City – odd).  Anyway, this is kind of like that, but completely grass-roots, which makes it so much better.

Here is the rub.  According to the article the co-op is struggling to stay alive as they no longer have a garage to call home.  In my opinion, this is exactly the type of project people should go out of their way to support.  The biggest sacrifice is already being made by the people donating their time and talent, all they need is a little assistance from the right folks.   I am hoping someone out there can offer the funds, facilities, and expertise they need to sustain what they have started and even grow it into a fully functioning non-profit.  Maybe we could even dangle a carrot to get them thinking about an OKC franchise.

If you would like to help, let me know and I will get you in touch with Tate.