Transforming Tulsa

18 Sep 2012

SWA Group converts former truck loading facility into new urban park

Tulsa's new Guthrie Green demonstrates the power of city parks to catalyse revitalisation, generate innovative sources of energy, and maximise the benefits of effective private-public partnerships.

The Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) spearheaded the $8 million park project as part a $113.5 million public-private investment in the Brady-Greenwood downtown districts.

Designed by SWA's Sausalito, California office, Guthrie Green transforms a 2.7-acre truck loading facility into a community gathering space offering gardens, interactive fountains, outdoor stage with vine-covered 'green rooms', multi-purpose lawn for performances and festivals, and an 11,200-sq-ft cafe pavilion. Kinslow, Keith & Todd Architects designed the pavilion and stage. Wallace Engineering provided structural and civil engineering. Manhattan Construction Company, with Stonebridge Group and Tulsa Industrial Authority, oversaw construction.

SWA identified the truck loading site as an ideal location for green space within the emerging Brady Arts District. The city block sits on a primary east-west street, opposite the historic Tulsa Paper Company building which GKFF has reactivated as a cultural center housing the Woody Guthrie Archives and other nonprofit art-related tenants.

Early in the design, the team conceived of installing a ground-source heat pump system under the park. Consisting of 120 wells drilled to 500 ft depth, the 'geo-exchange' system generates 600 tons (7.2 million BTU/hour) of heating/cooling distributed via underground pipes to serve 120,000 sq ft of nearby non-profit users as well as cafe pavilion and bathrooms. Photovoltaic panels on the pavilion roof supply power for the heat pump system. The system enables 60% reduction in energy demand, with investment payback in five to seven years.

This concept won the project a $2.5 Million ARRA Stimulus Grant and other state / local funding. Flynt & Kallenberger and Dr. James Bose of Oklahoma State University collaborated on the geo-exchange design using Rygan Corp.'s high-efficiency closed-system technology. With the park's LED lighting and bio-retention swales, the geo-exchange system provides a model for sustainable park design.

Today, the project's grid layout of gardens, paths, and interactive fountains reflect what is unseen below the surface. A major circular fountain provides lively entertainment, while smaller fountains carved from granite cubes express the seeping, misting and jetting characteristics of water.

At its recent opening, Tulsans celebrated Guthrie Green with performances, fireworks, and food, opening a new chapter for shared and revitalised urban life.

Key Facts

Urban design
United States

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