Now you might wonder why the Price Tower building in Oklahoma deserves its very own post. Or why I drove 2 hours through farmland and rolling hills to take an hour-long tour of it. Here’s why: this is one of the few skyscrapers designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and then built. As with all FLW buildings, everything inside and out was his design or collaboration.
See the patina on those copper bits in the photo above? FLW didn’t want them to age from copper color to green at different rates, due to different angles to the sun, so he had them all pre-aged before they were installed on the exterior. That man’s attention to detail!
To explain the odd angles involved in the shape of the building and the plethora of triangles inside, I’m borrowing this from the wikipedia article on Price Tower:
The floorplan of the Price Tower centers upon an inlaid cast bronze plaque, bearing the logo of the Price Company and marking the origin of a parallelogram grid upon which all exterior walls, interior partitions and doors, and built-in furniture are placed. The resulting design is a quadrant plan—one quadrant dedicated for double-height apartments, and three for offices.
So keep that design idea in mind as you view the rest of the photos…
This is the lobby, which features a lot of triangles! The lights were designed to be like stars (close, but no cigar, FLW, sorry). Even the vents were triangular, although they turned out to be not as efficient in that shape. Beauty before comfort, at least at Price Tower.
The original lobby was a dress shop, because to FLW a skyscraper needed three different uses: retail, office, and residential. So the dress shop ticked the retail box, but it didn’t survive till now. The lobby was redone in a renovation, using FLW’s colors and materials, and with the second largest mural of its kind behind the couch. (Trivia: The largest mural of this kind is next door at the performing arts center, designed by a FLW disciple.)
Even the tables carry through the triangle theme. And the inset of the table is designed to mirror the wall mural, as if it’s a tiny lake. Cool idea. And I’d take that table in a heartbeat if someone was giving it away.
If you were reading and retaining that quote from wikipedia, you might look at this living area in an apartment and think, wow, that’s not double-height. It’s not, because those stairs off to the left go up to a loft where there were not one but two (very tiny) bedrooms. The ceiling area you see is the floor of those bedrooms, and the loft overlooks just the window area (behind the photographer) of the first floor. FLW designed everything here, including the curtains, furniture, and fabric. Check out that fabric, hes, those are triangles combined into diamonds.
The dining area wasn’t meant for big gatherings, obviously! But I love those glasses on the second middle shelf and I kind of hoped they would be selling them in a gift shop, but no joy. Oh, well, glass in a trailer doesn’t survive that long around me so I saved some money there 🙂
The kitchen is, uh, unusual. Methinks FLW didn’t actually do much food prep, based on the kitchens I’ve seen here and in the Kentuck Knob house. Hey, at least it has a dishwasher!
Up high on the office side of the building is the office Harold Price used when he owned the building. He insisted on a desk lamp, but FLW didn’t want any cords or poles cluttering the desk, so the lamp pole comes out the top and goes waaaaaay up to the high ceiling and the back down to the wall, and you can see the on/off switch below that frame and molding on the upper left of the photo. Not too convenient if you sit down at the desk then realize you want the light on.
I really loved this mosaic/mural in the owner’s office, all triangles and parallelograms. Topped by plants that seem extremely challenging to water (no back stairs to get to them).
While I found the skyscraper interesting for the many architectural details and the furniture designs, it isn’t one of those FLW places that I thought “I would love to live here”. It felt dated in 2022, rather than timeless, as Fallingwater is to me. Still, any FLW building is worth a look, and I did enjoy the longish drive through the countryside of eastern Oklahoma.
The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.
Frank Lloyd Wright