University Club Tower a Unique Tulsa Landmark

GTR Media Group photo
STANDING TALL: Tulsa’s University Club Tower building is located at 1722 S. Carson Ave. Built in the mid-1960s, the circular building gives the beautiful Tulsa skyline a unique look.

Of the many high-rise structures in Tulsa, there is only one totally round building: University Club Tower. This building was the brainchild of real estate developer Ainsley Perrault and a group of other investors. It was conceived in the early 1960s. The original architects were Jack Butz and V.M. Piland. They designed the building on computer. It was considered the first CAD (computer aided design) produced project in Oklahoma. The repetitive circular flat slab design allowed for rapidly produced construction documents. This economy carried through into a low construction cost of $7 million.
In 1962, twin circular high-rise apartment buildings opened in Chicago. Nicknamed the “Corn Cobb Towers”, these buildings combined parking garages on the lower levels and pie shaped apartments on the floors above while located on Chicago’s downtown river. The Marina Towers, as they were formally called, were a big influence on the University Club Tower design. The Tulsa project was begun in 1964 but stood as an unfinished skeleton on Tulsa’s urban skyline for several years due to what is assumed were financing issues. The building was finally opened in 1968.
Located at 1722 S. Carson one of Tulsa’s early residential areas (a half block from my great-grandparents, the A.J. Rudd’s house), the University Club Tower is 377 feet tall, it contains ground floor lobbies, staff office space, a tenant lounge / reception room and other auxiliary spaces, and five floors of covered parking. Above are twenty-three floors of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments of 700 to 1,900 square feet. Of course, each unit is pie shaped and serviced by a central core which contains fire stairs, elevators, and mechanical/janitorial closets. Most units have an exterior balcony which is achieved by an open recess flush within the circular shaft of the building. The top floor originally accommodated a radio station and a private club for the alumni of the University of Tulsa. Hence the name: University Club Tower.
The exterior site of the UCT includes various surface amenities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, and generous guest parking. The building skin is a combination of aluminum curtain wall and metal porcelain panels in a light yellow-green color. Views of the Arkansas River and downtown Tulsa are dramatic and outstanding.
Is it possible that another round high-rise building will be built in Tulsa in the future? Only time will tell. As land and premium views become more and more scarce, it is certainly possible.