Date with a Wrecking Ball: Oklahoma City’s Brutalist Stage Center

One of Oklahoma City’s most architecturally significant buildings, the Stage Center (known as the Mummers Theatre when it opened in 1970) will be demolished after the city denied an appeal to save the building.

A recent decision by the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment clears the way for the demolition of the Stage Center, designed by architect John Johansen and opened in 1970. “The Brutalist-style structure’s avant-garde design was said to be based on an electrical circuit system and is the only city structure to have won international acclaim,” writes Steve Lackmeyer in an article covering the impending demolition.

“…the Oklahoma City Board of Adjustment denied an appeal by Preservation Oklahoma to prevent the theater from being torn down to make way for a new OGE Energy Corp. headquarters.” Preservation Oklahoma's appeal argued that an earlier decision Downtown Design Review Committee ignored the prescriptions of the city’s Downtown Design Guidelines.

The decision came down to the wording of the guidelines, which state that “architecturally and historically significant buildings downtown should be retained, refurbished and should remain standing.” David Box, attorney for the developer, “countered that the word ‘should’ meant the guidance provided by the ordinance is a recommendation, not a requirement, and that it gave Downtown Design Review Committee members discretion on such decisions.”

Full Story: Last attempt to save Stage Center fails

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