Housed in the tallest structure built by Frank Lloyd Wright, a pre-eminent architect of the 20th century, Price Tower Arts Center is planning a building by a great architect of the 21st century. Internationally acclaimed, London-based Zaha Hadid has delivered her preliminary concepts for a new museum facility for the Arts Center, to be built adjacent to its current home in Wright’s masterpiece. This is the second project accepted by her firm in all of North America. (A capital campaign for this project is not yet underway and a projected completion date has not yet been set.)
Creating an Architectural Campus for Bartlesville and Oklahoma, in creating designs for Price Tower Arts Center, Hadid considered how a new facility might enhance and energize downtown Bartlesville. The area already has the makings of an engaging campus, given the presence of Price Tower, a performing arts center designed by William Wesley Peters of Taliesin Architects, and the public library. Unfortunately, though, this area as a whole is chopped up by an unnecessarily uniform street grid and by massive parking lots, with large areas of leftover space.
“We have the enormous privilege and responsibility of working within a signal building of the past century,” says Laura Riley, Interim Executive Director of Price Tower Arts Center (from 2001-2006). “Through our expansion program, we expect to create for Bartlesville and Oklahoma a destination for learning and experiencing art, architecture and design.”
How might this site and a new building respond to one another? To answer that question, Hadid made studies that overlaid the existing street grid with a different set of lines: those seen in the plan for Wright’s Price Tower. The result was a fresh, geometric pattern that bends around Price Tower, connecting it to the library and performing arts center and suggesting new uses for the areas around the site. The outlines of the new museum building developed out of this dynamic new urban fabric.
As part of the design work, associates at Zaha Hadid’s office had discussions with civic and community groups and representatives of neighboring institutions and businesses, to develop realizable plans for the use of the envisioned architectural campus. Hadid experimented with various proportions for the new museum building, to ensure that it will hold its own with Price Tower and yet not compete with it. Among other issues addressed by initial designs are the way to relate the entrance of the new building to Price Tower; changing traffic patterns in the area; and creating new uses for the urban spaces that the museum building will generate.
Zaha Hadid...“No Living Rival” Born in Baghdad, Iraq, and educated in London at the Architectural Association, Zaha Hadid worked with the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) before establishing her own practice in 1979. Writing of her work in The New York Times, respected architecture critic Herbert Muschamp stated, “As a pure virtuoso of design, she has no living rival.” Zaha was the 2004 Pritzker Prize Laureate for her impact on contemporary architecture.
The launch of a major new facility capitalizes on the momentum of the completed conversion of a portion of the Frank Lloyd Wright building into an intimate, luxurious hotel, Inn at Price Tower, and an elegant restaurant-bar, Copper. The redesign of the interiors was carried out by acclaimed architect Wendy Evans Joseph, in association with architect-of-record Scott K. Ambler of Ambler Architects in Bartlesville.
“Through these projects, Price Tower Arts Center is evolving into a remarkable cultural destination,” says Richard P. Townsend. “Within a wholly unique campus, the Arts Center offers important collections of architecture and design, ambitious exhibitions relating to art and architecture, and - most extraordinary of all - the opportunity not only to visit a great Frank Lloyd Wright building but to stay in it.”