Students in the Historic Buildings of Oklahoma course (Division of Architecture) and the Historic Preservation Planning course (Environmental Design program) took a walking tour of Automobile Alley in downtown Oklahoma City on Monday, November 2. After starting the evening at the popular Hideaway Pizza, Associate Professor Ron Frantz led a walking tour down Broadway Avenue, better known as Automobile Alley. The discussions ranged from the history of this row of early automobile dealerships to the damage from the 1995 truck bombing to the revitalization of what had been a pretty tired area.

Students learned about façade restorations, neon sign incentive grants, landscaping improvements, and unique interior designs. At the end of the tour, the group was welcomed by Christie Owen, a local artist, who opened the space of Verbode and showed her “Christie Owen: All in All, Solo Art Exhibition @ Verbode,” an impressive collection of 38 pieces. After the scheduled tour, a large portion of the students continued on a nighttime tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

After having heard about Frantz’s involvement with the TEAM II volunteer group to address the bomb-damaged buildings along Broadway Avenue, they then experienced the design of Hans Butzer and his firm who won the international competition for the Memorial. Hans is currently the Director for the Division of Architecture at the OU College of Architecture. (The unstated lesson here is how the faculty of the OU College of Architecture contribute to the vibrant urban core of Oklahoma City.

The group of 19 students, both graduate and undergraduate, include those majoring in Architecture, Environmental Design, Interdisciplinary Studies, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Marketing, and Regional and City Planning. With the largest concentration of historic tax credit projects in Oklahoma and with so many new uses for these large automobile dealerships, this area provided real life lessons for students of all majors.

Images courtesy of Christy Owen.