Oklahoma City

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.

Elliott has a way with turning nothing-sounding commissions into something. Cases in point: taking a program for a combination gas station, restaurant, and convenience store on Route 66 and creating Pops, a flamboyant roadside attraction (Record, March 2009, page 72), and rendering a field office in Hennessey, Oklahoma, for Kirkpatrick Oil (Record, May 2012, page 132) as a sleek, defining element for the town's Main Street. With a charge to design a shopping center, the architect again saw an opportunity to raise the bar. 'Big boxes have invaded the world,' he says. 'They are not architecture; they're just buildings. This was a chance to fix everything that is wrong with this type of retail center today.'

For inspiration, Elliott called upon his personal history when, as a child, he and his family would head into downtown Oklahoma City on Sundays for lunch and an afternoon of window-shopping. His handsome, minimalist scheme here aims to recapture the tradition of leisurely destination shopping and bring a renewed dignity to the environment in which it is done.

Classen Curve'named for the bend in North Classen Boulevard, the busy road whose contour it follows'looks inward, rather than out to the main thoroughfare, blocking the aural and visual static on the other side, and offering a protected environment that slows down time. Landscaping and covered courtyards tucked between buildings provide breathing space and invite shoppers to linger. Even the less glamorous elements are handled deftly, such as a water-retention pond, which the design team transformed into a lushly landscaped water feature. Dumpsters are enclosed in clean-lined steel structures with black anodized-aluminum extrusions that rise to become landmark towers for supporting signage. To break up the scale of the development, which contains a total of 94,000 square feet of interior space, Elliott designed a complex comprising 13 separate low-slung buildings. The steel-frame structures support horizontal boxes clad in manganese iron-spot brick, with 18-foot-high glass storefronts that admit ample daylight and put wares on full display. Freestanding canopies run the length of the buildings and lend a defining dynamism to the project. Supported by massive steel members and topped with steel purlins and corrugated decking, the canopies protect both the cars and pedestrians on walkways from the elements'in particular the blazing-hot sun of the summer months.

The center, which is anchored by the luxury clothing boutique Balliets, consists of locally owned retailers and restaurants, rather than national chains, building on its mission to create a 'modern Main Street for 21st-century shopping.' With a combination of upscale retail, restaurants, and 'lifestyle' outlets, the management hopes to foster a lively atmosphere'one that encourages shopping as the pleasurable family experience that Elliott recalls from his past. Though the buildings were completed in September 2010 (with more parking added in the final phase in mid-2011), to date many retail spaces remain vacant. Combine this with the fact that Oklahomans are understandably loath to get out of their vehicles on blistering summer days, and it is not surprising that there was not exactly a shopping frenzy in the air on a Thursday afternoon in late July'though restaurants buzzed with activity within their air-conditioned confines, and special events organized by tenants draw crowds.

'You do have to accept the notion of the car,' says the architect. And despite everything, shopping centers are not going away anytime soon. With Classen Curve, Elliott has again found a way to come to terms with the messy realities of the American landscape and, with smart architectural solutions, turn a potential suburban blight into an urbane new destination.

Completion Date: April 2010

Gross square footage: 97,000 S.F.

Cost: withheld


Chesapeake Land Development Co.

Architect and Site Design:
Elliott + Associates Architects
35 Harrison Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
405.232.9554– telephone
405.232.9997– fax

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record:
Rand Elliott, FAIA
Brad Buser, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
David Ketch, AIA

Civil Engineer
Johnson & Associates, Inc.
Brad Sullivan, P. E.
One East Sheridan, Suite 200
Oklahoma City, OK73104
405.235.8075 – telephone
405.235.8078 – fax

Structural Engineer:
Engineering Solutions, Inc.
John Joyce, P. E.
6801 Broadway Ext #215
Oklahoma City, OK 73116
405.848.4093 – telephone
405-848-4094 – fax
john@es-lic.net – email

Landscape: Elliott + Associates Architects
35 Harrison Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK73104
405.232.9554– telephone
405.232.9997– fax
Total Environment Nursery, Inc.
16301 N Rockwell Avenue, Bldg. A
Edmond, OK 73013
405.844.2234 – telephone
405.844.2221 – fax

Lighting: Elliott + Associates Architects
35 Harrison Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK73104
405.232.9554– telephone
405.232.9997– fax
Smith Lighting Sales
4101 N. Walnut Avenue
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
(405) 521-0093 – telephone
(405) 557-0417 – fax

Signage:Elliott + Associates Architects
35 Harrison Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK73104
405.232.9554– telephone
405.232.9997– fax
ASI Modulex
Josh Livingston
1721 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
405.946.1274 – telephone
405.562-5039 – fax
josh.livingston@asimodulex.com – email

General contractor:
Smith & Pickel Construction, Inc.
P. O. Box 21447
Oklahoma City, OK73156
405.755.7624 – telephone
405.755.6550 – fax

Credits: Scott McDonald © Hedrich Blessing Photographers
400 N. Peoria Street
Chicago, IL60642
312.491.1101– telephone
312.491.1112– fax

Sketchup Images:
Elliott + Associates Architects
35 Harrison Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK73104
405.232.9554– telephone
405.232.9997– fax

Skyline Ink Animation Studios
17 Harrison Ave.
Oklahoma City OK73104
405.526.4500– telephone
405. 526.4504– fax

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Sketchup and 3DStudio Max for schematic design/design development, and AutoCAD Architecture for construction documents



Structural system Steel

Exterior cladding

Masonry:  Endicott Manganese Ironspot  Kingsize brick
Metal/glass curtain wall:  YKK
Rainscreen (terra cotta, composite, etc.): Trespa roof screen panels
Moisture barrier: Dow Corning  Rigid Insulation
Curtain wall: YKK


Built-up roofing:  Modified Bitumen
Metal:  MBCI corrugated panel Kynar coated
Other:  Trespa roof screen panels


Metal frame: YKK


Glass: PPG Solarban 60 1” insulated


Entrances: YKK
Metal doors: Curries HM


Locksets:  Schlage, Adamsrite
Hinges: Hager, YKK
Closers:  LCN
Pulls:  CHMI

Interior finishes

Paints and stains: Sherwin Williams


Other furniture (use additional sheet if necessary):
Outdoor Furniture
Allan Knight: Fusion Tribu Rectangular Dining Table; #03451E; White Top;
Stainless Steel Frame; 70.75”Wx35.25”Dx29.5”H
Allan Knight: Fusion Tribu Backless Bench: #03435E; White Seat;
Stainless Steel Frame; 74”Wx17.25”Dx18”H

Unicahome: #COOLMESAALTA.90.W; Cool Mesa Alta 36/36/30 White Slat
Unicahome: #COOLBANCO90.W; Cool Bench 36/17/17 White Slat NO Cushion

Modern Outdoor: Etra 60”x34” Tables; Stainless Steel & IPE
Modern Outdoor: Etra 4’ Small Bench; Stainless Steel & IPE

Trash Cans 
Landscapeforms: Gretchen Litter; Side Opening; 30 gallon; Polysite Black; Powdercoat Black; Surface mountable; Standard liner 30 gallon Stormcloud
Unicahome: #COOLBANCO120.B; Cool Bench 48/17/17 Black Slat NO Cus


Downlights: Exterior soffit down light – Spectrum Lighting 8V vertical fluorescent downlight.
Exterior:  Hydrel pole lights and ground lights, Prisma ground light, Peerless linear  fluorescent, Bega ground light, Focal Point, Nulite, Elliptipar.


Accessibility provision (lifts, ramping, etc.): All one level and wheelchair accessible.