Magazine puts Oklahoma City in the spotlight

Thursday, October 4, 2012

by Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

Architectural Record is not a magazine found on every coffee table in America — but it is on the desk of just about every architect and a good number of developers and contractors’ desks, as well.   

It’s the sort of magazine that can influence discussions and perceptions. And in the latest issue, the cover promotes the idea of “New Life for the American City.” Three cities are highlighted: Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Oklahoma City. And once again, we’re seeing more evidence that “Oklahoma City” is becoming one of the latest “buzz communities” — cities that are frequently looked upon as the new trendsetters.  

Consider that once upon a time, Austin was considered a sleepy Texas town compared to sexier cities like Houston and Dallas.  

Portland and Seattle were once forgettable Pacific Northwest cities, but like Austin and other communities, their status improved significantly when they were showcased by national media.   

The path to getting cover status on Architectural Record also demonstrates that such attention best arises with discovery — and not as a result of a marketing effort or public relations push by the local chamber of commerce.   

Elizabeth Broome, managing editor, was vaguely familiar with Oklahoma City’s transformation over the past 20 years. But it wasn’t until she visited Oklahoma City architect Rand Elliott that she understood the enormity of the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects, the changes to the skyline, the Oklahoma River and the neighborhood surrounding the headquarters of Chesapeake Energy Corp.   

Broome reported back to her editorial team; the magazine’s editor-inchief visited with friends and associates and the team saw coverage in various publications.  

Now, a bit of disclosure: When Broome returned to Oklahoma City, she was given a list of people to talk to who were considered well-versed on Oklahoma City architecture and development.   

I was on that list, and after an enjoyable visit at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, I was asked to write the lead article, with other features written by Broome.   

The result is a package of stories that show Oklahoma City as a community that is transforming its image through architecture and planning — and deemed a top example of “New Life for the American City.”