Located in the historic Automobile Alley District of Oklahoma City the design seeks to transform an existing 1930 historic masonry and steel building into a modern office space. The character of the 12,000 sq. ft. two story building, originally built for Sharp Auto Supply Co, had been diminished by thick layers of paint, historically inaccurate additions, and years of misguided design efforts.
Our concept for the project is called X-Ray. To create an architectural portrait of the company we imagined explaining that the construction product is about its process. By showing what is inside the wall, we can communicate the importance of the details, those seen and those unseen. The project is a celebration of construction and those who build. Clear polycarbonate walls and roofing combined with shadows created by natural light reinforce the “x-ray” concept.
Restoring the historical integrity to the original structure both internally and externally is central to the project. Once complete, the design seeks to gracefully insert new elements, such as walls, beams, and ceilings, treated as if they were “x-rayed” versions of typical construction methods. This approach exposes the internal framing and building systems through the use of clear polycarbonate panels rather than hiding all elements through typical opaque gypsum board for all to see. This approach allows one to understand how the building is put together and how it functions. The selective addition and placement of new walls stand in a harmonious contrast with the existing structural elements, which remain. Our concept allows construction to be visible.
A two story entry and lobby space is filled with natural light from the south-facing storefront and skylights in the existing bowstring truss roof make the transparency of the building is evident before entering the building. A new sculptural steel stair cantilevers overhead, physically, but not visually separating the offices from the adjacent lobby space. A high level of craftsmanship insures the exposed elements contribute to the overall understanding of the construction process. The expression of the construction process is continued outside, where the north-facing deck provides a visual understanding of “stick framing” as well as a comfortable shaded area for a place to pause.