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Greater Tulsa Reporter

Littlefield Building Still Impressive After 70 Years

On Architecture By ROGER COFFEY, AIA

ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE: The Littlefield Building, 1307 S. Boulder Ave., was built in 1947 and was renovated less than 20 years ago. While the interior was remodeled, the building’s exterior remains largely unchanged.

ROSSY GILLE for GTR Newspapers

What does a building remodel become when it is more than a remodel? The Littlefield Building at 1307 S. Boulder Ave. thoroughly answers this question. This project was the work of a design-sensitive owner, David Littlefield, and his architect, Pat Fox.

Originally, this little 40,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1947, accommodated the Tulsa offices of IBM. It was an ordinary Mid-Century Modern four-story concrete frame building with open floors and elevators located at its southwest corner.

IBM moved its offices elsewhere in 1985, and, for 12 years, the building sat empty. In 1999, David Littlefield, through Hamilton Investments LP, purchased the building. Pat Fox was hired as the architect with Lowry and Hemphill as the general contractor. Littlefield Marketing and Advertising, Inc., was the prime tenant (top two floors). A $3.2 million building project was launched.

The building maintained its original structural frame, fire stairs and elevators (which were updated). Virtually all other materials were demolished. All building systems including mechanical, electrical and plumbing were new, as was the exterior skin.

The Littlefield Building proudly displays its new look along with some subtle but very powerful historical influences. First is the nod to Romanesque architecture with the building’s strong masonry exterior and its two-story first and second floor arches that begin with a powerful main entrance arch supported by a bent steel frame.

The Romanesque style was prevalent in Europe in the ninth through the 12th centuries. It was revived in the late 19th century designs of architects H. H. Richardson and Louis Sullivan. The influence of these men is evident in several areas of the building. In particular, steel railings are treated to a geometric design reminiscent of Sullivan.

The second reference is the steel sunshade/trellis which projects 12 feet off the building face at its parapet. It is supported by massive steel brackets tied back to structural building columns. Beginning with a base of rusticated Arizona sandstone (nicely carried through into the interior) with Endicott ironspot brick punctuated with five-foot square windows; this building façade is eye-catching. The sunshade is the finishing touch to this design. It was inspired by the overhanging roof/cornice of the 15th century Palazzo Picardi in Florence, Italy.

At the building’s interior, a large atrium under a kalwall-type skylight was created in the center, serving the upper two floors. Open walkways with balcony railings allow perimeter access.

Two items which were eliminated from the original remodel were an underground parking garage on the south, which is now a surface parking lot, and a large clock which would have been located above the main south entrance arch.

In 2003, Littlefield sold his building to New Dominion, LLC, and now uses an office space nearby, where his desk overlooks the building that still bears his name. The new owners have installed extensive LED accent lighting. Otherwise, the building exterior remains virtually the same.

Updated 09-18-2017

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