A tragic legacy, preserved

Oklahoma City building retains bombing scars

April 01, 2001 |

Buildings are seldom renovated to preserve damage. But that was a major objective of the $12 million renovation of a building that survived the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building six years ago.

The Journal Record Building is one block from the Murrah Building site. It now houses the Oklahoma City Memorial Center, which opened in February with a ceremony attended by President George W. Bush. The building was extensively damaged, and all its doors and windows blown out. None of its occupants were killed, although some were injured by flying glass.

The building's south façade directly faced the Murrah Building. "We wanted to preserve it in its damaged state," says David Oman, project manager with Oklahoma City-based A/E C.H. Guernsey & Co. Window openings were infilled with dark glass, and nonfunctional openings were infilled with the same dark-colored brick used on the adjacent grounds.

A translucent wall panel was installed in front of a parapet with a jagged edge left by the blast, so that the damage remains visible. The missing section of an exterior fire escape bears witness to the damage inflicted when the roof was blown off the building.

Bomb damage exposed multiple layers of ceilings that covered ornate plaster, but the only significant structural damage was disloding of some floor beams.

Oklahoma City-based Lippert Brothers Inc., the project's general contractor, began its work after the building had been gutted. Some remaining asbestos had to be abated, and lead-based paint was removed within 18 inches of any point at which new connections were made to existing steel, according to Thomas Lippert, the company's senior vice president.

The 169,000-sq.-ft. building had a colorful background even before it became a footnote to history. Built in 1923 as the Indian Temple Shrine, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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