Frank Lloyd Wright’s Little Skyscraper on the Prairie

Price Tower, Bartlesville, OK. Frank Lloyd Wright's only high-rise.

Price Tower, Bartlesville, OK. Frank Lloyd Wright’s only high-rise. Think of it as a wonderfully whimsical sculpture, a green copper landmark in the sky, a “tree that escaped the crowded forest”, as Wright called it (thanks, Wikipedia).

Frank Lloyd Wright was not an overly superstitious architect, for there is a 13th floor in his Price Tower masterpiece. Wright’s only skyscraper was commissioned in the mid-1950s by the H.C. Price Company in Bartlesville. Their corporate headquarters until 1981, it’s now a National Historic Landmark; an office building repurposed as an arts center, restaurant and elegant boutique hotel. You can sleep in this fabulous work of art, possibly the most romantic thing you can do in Oklahoma unless you can arrange for a night in a Remington painting. We booked ourselves the Valentine’s Day Inn Love Package, with long-stemmed roses, chocolate dipped strawberries, and a bottle of bubbly in our room with a view, way up on the 13th floor.

We slurped champagne in our airy aerie on the prairie and whacked our shins and hips on Mid-Century Modern edges and angles, the essential aesthetic of all the chairs, bed frames, the handsome maple desk, the fixtures, and even the green marble and copper vanity. There was no escaping the style dictums of Frank Lloyd Wright.

We slurped champagne in our airy aerie on the prairie and whacked our shins and hips on Mid-Century Modern edges and angles, the essential aesthetic of all the chairs, bed frames, the handsome maple desk, the fixtures, and even the green marble and copper vanity. There was no escaping the style dictums of Frank Lloyd Wright.

New blonde maple furnishings were created for the retrofit ( the originals are in the Price Tower museum) built in-the-room in true Wright fashion- not for purist reasons, but done so out of necessity. The wee Otis elevators surrounding the tower core are but copper capsules, impractical for raising more than a rollerbag and a couple of narrow-hipped humans. There was no other way to furnish the building.

The fresh wind and views from our our floor-to-ceiling casement windows blew us away. They all crank open, horizontally. A fine retro feature in an era of permanently shut high-rise windows.

The fresh wind and views from our our floor-to-ceiling casement windows blew us away. They all crank open vertically, hinged from the bottom. A fine retro feature for our era of permanently shut high-rise windows.

Our knife-edged chair.

Our knife-edged chair.

Our Frank Lloyd Wright car park.

Frank Lloyd Wright car park, Price Tower.

Frank Lloyd Wright storm drain.

Frank Lloyd Wright storm drain, Price Tower.

Advice from the wise and hungry: for breakfast, ditch the restaurant at the top and go around the corner to Weeze’s. Their pancakes are huge fluffy sponges flopped over the rim of the plate, hotly soaking up syrup by the gallon. One quarter of one with a fried egg on top and two thick strips of bacon held me all the way through hours of sketching at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska.

Bison in belly-high grasses at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (Nature Conservancy) in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Bison in belly-high grasses at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (Nature Conservancy) in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

A small announcement of a big milestone: though I didn’t catch the moment it happened, Drawing the Motmot has just passed the one million hit mark. That’s spectacular. Thank you, kind reader. I’m thoroughly honored to have you here. Thank you, thank you. Thank you.

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About zeladoniac

Debby Kaspari travels the world with sketchbook and binoculars, drawing and painting in wild and not-so-wild landscapes. Norman, Oklahoma is her home base, and she lives there with her tropical ecologist husband and a mackerel tabby named Gizmo.
This entry was posted in Adventure!, architecture, Art, Diversions, Drawing, history, Oklahoma, Sketching, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Little Skyscraper on the Prairie

  1. Alan Baggs says:

    Thanks for sharing your observations..I like the architectural detailing especially in the car park!

  2. gwenkuo says:

    Thanks for the inspiring post of Frank Lloyd Wright’s idea, architecture and space. I found it’s quite interesting to view the space/place through different lenses…http://wp.me/p3bwN9-2X

  3. Anniversary to remember. Congratulations and thanks for sharing the experience.

  4. Pingback: Small Town Spotlight: Bartlesville, Oklahoma - Hopper Blog

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