The Mid-Continent Tower, a 36-story office building in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been recognized with the prestigious 25 Year Award from the Eastern Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award was presented to the Tulsa office of Dewberry (then known as HTB), which designed the distinctive tower for then-owner Reading & Bates in the early 1980s.
Among the most challenging design and construction projects in the nation at the time, the Mid-Continent Tower was built adjacent to and above the historic 16-story Mid-Continent Building, also known as the Cosden Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Reading & Bates, an energy resources company, owned the circa-1918 building and sought to expand the property to serve as its headquarters.
Because the existing building’s structural system would not support additional weight, Dewberry’s design concept called for constructing the tower’s base adjacent to the building to its full height, and then cantilevering over the building for an additional 20 stories. In all, 330,000 square feet were added to the original 90,000-square-foot building, aided by a series of five massive steel trusses, each weighing 230 tons.
In order to replicate the original building’s terra cotta façade, the Dewberry team researched available manufacturers to create the 85,000 tiles, spires, cornices, and moldings required for construction. With the peak of Tudor Gothic-revival architecture long past, only one American firm still manufactured terra cotta tiles at the time, a company called Gladding, McBean & Co. in Lincoln, California. The company, which had never manufactured such a large order, expanded its operations to meet the requirements, which included more than 7,000 different shapes and 13,000 hand-made tiles.
The building won numerous awards upon its completion in 1984, including a National Trust Preservation Honor Award. BD+C