The Better Boulevard – Part II, Thunder Circle

Over the last few years, I have made an effort to become actively involved in shaping the future of Oklahoma City’s urban environment.  One particular issue that I have dedicated a great deal of time to is the new boulevard that will replace the former I-40 crosstown bridge.  This is Part I of a three-part story about the boulevard and my ideas, hopes and dreams for my city’s new front door.  (Click for part I.  Part III coming soon)

Robinson Avenue at the New Boulevard

The roundabout at Robinson and the new Boulevard ties together the new southwest entrance to the arena, the future convention center, the convention hotel, and the central park with a grand civic gesture.  Linking these current and future MAPS projects creates a distinctive and dramatic sense of place that is only experienced in Oklahoma City.  This roundabout is not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides an opportunity for each facility to benefit from the proximity of its neighboring facilities and work as a unified whole.

Site Plan - Click for larger image
Site Plan – Click for larger image

An underground pedestrian concourse creates a protected connection between all four MAPS projects, while an underground garage provides parking and convention center service access.  By moving these functions below grade, the urban fabric and open green space above is preserved.  The concourse level also provides pedestrian access to the fountain in the center of the roundabout without having to cross traffic.

Overall Site
Overall Site
Convention Hotel
Convention Hotel
Convention Hotel from Convention Center
Convention Hotel from Convention Center

The convention hotel is located directly across the roundabout from the convention center and is physically connected via the pedestrian concourse.  By locating the convention hotel across the street, the convention center is allowed to completely occupy the site and maximize its usable area.  The building is a true mixed-use structure with a full service hotel, meeting rooms, residential units, and office/retail spaces on the ground floor

Pedestrian Portal along Harvey Axis
Pedestrian Portal along Harvey Axis

The pedestrian portal splits the above-grade levels of the convention center into a west building and an east building.  This passageway provides a necessary link between the Myriad Gardens and Central Park and encourages travel between the two green spaces.  The structure consists of a translucent cylindrical form that mimics the shape of the Crystal Bridge across the street to the north.  On the inside, lighting, video projectors and audio systems create an exciting and interactive light show.  The pedestrian portal is a destination event intended to draw pedestrians to and through the passageway and induce travel between the park and the gardens.

The Thunder Circle at night
The Thunder Circle at night

At the center of the roundabout is a large water feature which includes several vertical jets and waterfall elements.  In the evenings, this fountain is illuminated by lighting that is programmable to glow in any color of the rainbow.  This is especially exciting on game nights when the fountain glows Thunder blue, orange, and red.  The centerpiece of the fountain is a beacon that projects a bright shaft of light skyward each night.  Since the fountain is partially below grade, it is safely accessible to pedestrians from the concourse level.

To download a high-resolution PDF of the entire presentation, click here.

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One thought on “The Better Boulevard – Part II, Thunder Circle

  1. This is some of the “Best” ideas I have seen yet. This is the standard we should have for the entire BLVD. and others.

    Idea : I would love to see OKC have a “Energy Tower” on the North Bank of the Central Park (on River) …that would be a central US landmark. Superior to the Seatly Space Needle close to 800 / 900 ft. …I would like to see your work on such an idea???

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