Despite its racy-sounding name, there is probably no less sexy building type than the strip mall. This car-friendly retail model proliferated in the United States through the middle and end of the last century, in response to the flight from urban centers. But just as suburban living has found itself under the microscope in recent years, there has been a reexamination of the culture of shopping. With an eye toward high design, Elliott + Associates Architects has recently created Classen Curve, a smart new retail center in a mixed commercial-residential district to the north of Oklahoma City's downtown.
The project, which to date has consisted of three phases, was developed by Chesapeake Land Development Company, whose parent company, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, is one of Oklahoma City's largest employers. An important amenity for the workers at the corporation's sprawling 111-acre campus just across the road, it exemplifies the sort of high-end development that has become one of the calling cards of Chesapeake chief executive Aubrey McClendon, who has worked with Oklahoma City'based Rand Elliott on numerous projects (including the campus) and has left his imprint across the city.