Downtown reflections

By William Crum

The Oklahoman

 

A picture is emerging of how Oklahoma City's MAPS 3 convention center will shape the architectural identity of the district that will develop around it.

 

Architects brought samples of exterior materials chosen for the $287 million convention center to a series of meetings this week with citizens' advisory panels.

 

Expanses of glass and tile will reflect the architects' theme of earth, horizon and sky, chosen to acknowledge the building's place on the prairie.

 

Absent are vestiges of the red brick warehouse facades that formerly defined the blocks south of Reno Avenue and west of the BNSF Railway viaduct.

 

Those structures are being cleared away to make room for the convention center complex, including a new parking garage and luxury hotel.

 

Drawings include a cantilevered roof shading the upper-level ballroom from the afternoon sun.

 

The deep recess beneath will shelter a terrace with views across S Robinson Avenue to the MAPS 3 park.

 

The vista will stretch from SkyDance bridge to the Devon Energy tower, and take in the envisioned west-park development beyond.

 

Architect Adam Paulitsch, of Populous, said plans are for three types of high-performance glass with varying levels of tint, all reflecting the surrounding landscape.

 

Wood veneers, terra-cotta, textured plaster, concrete panels and metal screens round out the materials to enclose the building.

 

The convention center's grand entry at the southeast corner of SW 4 Street and Robinson features a tall glass facade, accented by "OKC" lettering set into the ground.

 

LED lighting creates a sense that the building will be able to change moods in concert with the city.

 

High-tech makes its way inside with wayfinding "monoliths" of polished steel and wood that incorporate touch screens to mimic the iPhone experience.

 

The convention center is to include a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 45,000 square feet of meeting space and a 30,000-square-foot ballroom.

 

It is the most expensive of the MAPS 3 projects.

 

With the 600-room hotel, 865-space parking garage, and a 500-space parking lot, the complex is on track to attract $559.4 million in public and private investment.

 

Also this week:

 

•The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board recommended the city council approve installation of a pedestrian bridge at the east end of the 11-acre MAPS 3 white-water park.

 

The park's original design included the bridge but it was dropped along with other features when construction bids exceeded the budget.

 

The white-water park is a city park in the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River, and is operated by the Boathouse Foundation. It opened in May.

 

Besides the $786,000 pedestrian bridge, the park is scheduled for improvements including an anti-slip coating on concrete floors and an awning to keep rain out of the main building.

 

The bridge will improve access to the kayak building at the top of the rafting channels. Funds are to be drawn from proceeds of the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax.

 

•The Citizens Advisory Board also recommended changes in MAPS 3 trails and sidewalks projects resulting in $850,000 in reduced costs. Fewer materials than expected were necessary to complete a series of sidewalks. Cost savings also were found as designs progressed for the Will Rogers Trail linking Lake Hefner and the Oklahoma River.

 

•The latest budget report shows MAPS 3 sales tax collections of $654.3 million running 5.2 percent ahead of original projections. Voters approved the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax in 2009. It expires on Dec. 31, 2017. Voters could be asked next fall to extend the tax for MAPS 4.