Image in modal.

Supertall skyscrapers, measured as 984 feet or taller, are on the rise globally—the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat affirms that there are 173 complete as of today. Such developments are herculean structural efforts, and often require immense sums of financing to build, and, as a result, are clustered in the world’s great metropolises where land is scarce and demand high, like within the Central Park–adjacent enclave known as Billionaire’s Row in Manhattan.  However, a project out on the Great Plains, in Oklahoma City, is slated to buck that trend. This month, developers Matteson Capital and Centurion Partners announced to The Oklahoman that $1.5 billion in financing is now secured to build what would be the tallest building in the United States—and the fifth tallest in the world—the 1,907-foot-tall Legends Tower. The project ’s height is symbolic—1907 is the year that Oklahoma was admitted as the 46th state.

boardwalk at bricktown.

Project architect AO describes Boardwalk at Bricktown as an "exciting architectural tapestry of modern design and a rich mixed-use experience at the heart of a vibrant entertainment district.” Image courtesy AO

Currently, the Sooner State’s tallest tower is the Pickard Chilton–designed Devon Energy Center (2012), which rises above downtown Oklahoma City at 844 feet. Tulsa can claim Oklahoma’s second tallest skyscraper, Minoru Yamasaki’s 667-foot-tall BOK Tower (1976).

The proposed site, in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown neighborhood, is currently used for surface parking. The tower would form the lankiest and largest component of the proposed 5 million-square-foot mixed-use development, Boardwalk at Bricktown, designed by Orange County, California–based firm Architects Orange (AO). Renderings suggest a splashy retail-and-entertainment podium, replete with a 17,000-square-foot lagoon and roof-decks with city views, and three other 345-foot-tall towers housing nearly 600 market-rate apartments, over 100 workforce apartments, just under 500 hotel rooms, and almost 100 condominiums. The Legends Tower, if built, will add a further 400 hotel rooms, 1,000 luxury apartments, nearly 100 condominiums, and just under 50 affordable apartments. Notably, according to The Oklahoman, the development’s projected 1,776 residential units, would effectively double the amount of housing in downtown Oklahoma City.

Rendering of Legends Tower.

The complex would join a burgeoning downtown Oklahoma City. Image courtesy AO.

Plans for the development were first announced in December 2023, with a 1,750-foot-tall structure, that would have placed the Legends Tower second to New York City’s Freedom Tower, the current tallest building in the U.S. at 1,776 feet tall. The developers upped the ante with a redesign in January that adds over 150 feet of spire, which would place the tower well ahead of its New York City rival. The required zoning variance for its construction will be reviewed by the Oklahoma City Planning Commission in April, with a final vote by the city council in June. The project also requires a sign off from the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, the developer will only proceed with the Legends Tower once the first two shorter apartment towers are at least 50 percent leased—those are already approved by the City Planning Commission.

The project will join a spate of new development projects in the city center, such as a new NBA arena for the Oklahoma Thunder and an expansive convention center.

Skepticism remains regarding the feasibility of the project considering the relatively slack demand for a megaproject in a tornado-prone metropolitan area counting just under 1.5 million residents (the 42nd largest in the country), as well as mystery surrounding the two developers—neither Matteson Capital or Centurion Partners have websites or a social media presence. Despite the secrecy of Matteson Capital and Centurion Partners, Scot Matteson, founder and managing partner of both companies, did make a brief appearance in 2018 on The Real Housewives of Orange County as star Shannon Beador’s love interest. And, in 2019 his four daughters launched a $100,000 GoFundMe fundraiser to support mounting medical bills related to his stage 3 pancreatic cancer. There is also the question of technical knowhow. The architect, AO, while prolific in designing stadium-adjacent entertainment districts, award-winning multi-family developments, and shopping centers, including a Tuscan-style outlet mall in Busan, South Korea, has never completed a project of this complexity.

Rendering of Legends Tower.

Spanning more than 3 acres, the complex would include a host of retail and entertainment functions, as well as water features. Image courtesy AO