The Spaceship Has Landed
There is a saying..." If you try to make every street a perfect street, none of them will be." A beautiful structure, like I personally think [the BOK Center] is, can be like, a pond. Something pleasing around which other things can be built, an open space, something to view. It is also the nature of "Iconic" buildings to stand apart and aback from the usual. The Eiffel Tower, and many other iconic concert halls, museums, etc. as examples.
Again, not every street, or block, needs to have ground level retail, there are worthy exceptions. Now if this had been placed in say the Brady Arts district, an area which I hope becomes more pedestrian friendly, I would have objected. But where it is, shunted off in a different corner of downtown, near other "unpedestrian friendly" buildings, its fine. But ....even here the entrance and exit is facing what could become a pedestrian friendly area, a gateway if you will, to the rest of downtown.
Imagine exiting the new arena and right across the street where the Tower View property is, a great pedestrian friendly development, hotel, shops, etc. Imagine sitting out at those shops and looking out at this wonderful sculpture of an arena. (Though I would hope that in the future some fountains or water features could go in front of the arena to add a little more "splash" to the effect). Imagine exiting this arena then right in front of you the rest of Downtown Tulsa beckons.
One can argue about whether this spot could have become more pedestrian friendly between the Convention Center, several parking garages, etc. It could have been, but, I think this is an equally nice result for this particular area as well. Another area, I would have agreed with you, it could have done more harm than good. This particular location was a great place to have such a structure. And I personally like having something like this for Tulsa.
One other thing. Have you ever heard of a place in Paris called, La Defense? I was looking at a photo thread of it in an international forum and couldn't help but respond negatively to what I was seeing. The buildings and set up of the places there screamed disaster to my Midwestern sensibilities. After having lived through the destruction of our downtown by having buildings that pay no attention to the pedestrian, to outdoor "mall" like areas with contemporary architecture, etc. I felt that I should warn these Parisiennes that they were making a mistake. I got roundly criticized and rebuked.
They explained that it works there and indeed upon looking at the photos again, there were indeed plenty of people walking around and enjoying the spaces there. Basically it boils down to context and density. The people argued that things that would be a disaster in one location, can work perfectly well in another.
One shouldn't be too rigid and hold to too simplistic a bag of rules. There are caveats and exceptions. With a little more finesse and a richer understanding one can see how, when and where, the exceptions work.
One Point for the Thunder
Good article (see "Who is Tulsa's Team? in the June 26-July 2, 2008, issue)! However you guys are missing one of the best Tulsa teams that play right now. The Oklahoma Thunder football team that plays in the WFL (World Football League) has won (not to say demolished) every single team they've faced this year. 48-3, 73-0 and 42-19 (this last score was facing the previous champions!). Anyway... Keep the good work!
- Rodolfo Sosa
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