Until July 2004, 200 East Brady, a 40,000-sf, 1920s-era warehouse, had been an abandoned eyesore in Tulsa, Okla.'s Brady district. The building, which was once home to a grocery supplier, then a steel casting company, and finally a casket storage facility, was purchased by Tom Wallace, president and founder of Wallace Engineering, to be his firm's new headquarters. Wallace's firm did the structural engineering, working with Tulsa-based Selser Schaefer Architects to bring the building back to life on a $3.6 million budget.
Though Tom Wallace had grand plans for the 75-year-old building, the west exterior wall was crumbling away, the first floor slab was cracked, and the roof, windows, and entries were in dire need of attention. Luckily, the structural frame was stable, which made it possible to preserve as much of the original warehouse character as possible, including three concrete and brick exterior walls, complete with faded painted signs. The original steel sash windows were repaired and fitted with double-paned, low-e glass. The damaged west wall was removed and replaced with a steel-framed curtain wall façade, providing a new entry for the building and allowing for natural light. The roof was not only repaired and insulated with a protected membrane system, but 20,000 sf was set aside for a possible roof garden. “To not alter the building drastically was a nice touch,” says Reconstruction Awards judge K. Nam Shiu, P.E., S.E., of Walker Restoration Consultants, Elgin, Ill.
The interior of the building maintains the industrial atmosphere that the exterior suggests, while also providing a bright and modern workspace for the firm's employees. To expand on the natural light that the new west wall façade introduced, old interior partitions were replaced with glass ones and all exposed concrete was painted white. The floor plan consists of open studios, principals' offices on two sides, utility/core space, and a storage unit.
This renovation is the first of its kind in the Brady district, and Wallace Engineering hopes that it will inspire others to rebuild the neighborhood.