BOK Tower, a Williams Companies Project, Was Designed by Famous Architect Yamasaki

GTR Media Group photo
IMPRESSIVE PLACEMENT: The BOK Tower is placed at what is now the north end of Boston Avenue and just north of the Williams Center Green, a downtown park recently refurbished by the Rotary Club of Tulsa. The placement gives onlookers an impressive architectural sight from north to south, as the southern view is of the historic Boston Avenue Methodist Church. The building to the left is the 320 South Boston Building, and to the right is the Kennedy Building.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Williams Brothers Pipeline, which grew into the Williams Companies, was one of the leading oil industry companies in Tulsa.
In 1973 on a trip to New York City, CEO John Williams toured the towers of the newly completed World Trade Center where an allied company had offices.
John was very impressed with these twin skyscrapers, the tallest buildings on the Manhattan skyline designed by the well-known architect, Minoru Yamasaki.
Soon after this visit, the Williams Companies began a major downtown Tulsa project encompassing nine city blocks.
In an era of urban renewal, a number of dilapidated historic buildings, including the Hotel Tulsa, were demolished. To make the project happen, Yamasaki was retained to be the architect.
John Williams originally visualized a complex of two small scale 25-story towers, but Yamasaki convinced him of the economics of one tower so a single 52-story building, one quarter the foot print of the Trade Center, was dedicated in 1976. At a cost of $86 million, the building at 101 E. 2nd St. was immediately a focal point of downtown Tulsa. It provided a terminus for the north end of Boston Avenue (balancing the Boston Avenue Church tower on the south end) and is fronted by the Williams Center Green, a much-needed hotel on the west, and the new Performing Arts Center on the east. Still today the tallest building in Tulsa, it was the tallest in Oklahoma as well as Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Missouri and New Mexico until the OKC Devon Tower was built in 2011. Today it is called the BOK Tower.
The BOK Tower is a scaled down clone of the World Trade Center, a design so popular that Yamasaki recreated it in buildings in Buffalo, Minneapolis, Seattle and Richmond, Virginia. Its gross floor area is 1,140,673 square feet with approximately 23,000 to 25,000 square feet per floor. Its steel frame structure is the same as the World Trade Center and is serviced by 24 elevators. In 2006 the building underwent $16 million in repairs and renovations, partially due to some ground water flooding issues.
From a marble base which forms three semicircular two story arches and another half arch at each building corner, thirty-one closely spaced aluminum faced steel columns provide a strong sense of verticality as they rise uninterrupted to a series of tall rectangular openings which define the top floors. Above these, a solid smooth cap terminates the building. The aluminum curtain wall skin is so light in color that in sunlight at times it seems almost white.
The BOK Tower is a handsome but poignant reminder of the World Trade Center. On Sept. 11, 2001 nearly 3,000 people were killed from a terrorist attack which destroyed the towers. More than 650 employees of the Williams Companies’ business partner, the same allied company Joe Williams visited in 1973, died in the destruction of the towers.

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