Time running out to rescue iconic Oklahoma City structure from demolition

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A plan to demolish one of Oklahoma City’s unique pieces of architecture has a group voicing their dismay and pushing the Oklahoma City Public Schools to change its decision.

The fight is over a section of what was formerly the Central National Motor Bank on Classen and 5th.

The bank building is currently under construction. The school district is restoring it as its new administration building.

Across the street from the building is what used to be the bank’s drive-thru annex, its unusual roof earning it the nickname “the wavy bank” for decades.

“The architecture firm that did the designs for this property took into account the kind of quirks and cool things about the old bank building,” said OKCPS spokesperson Courtney Morton.

So, the district will keep a towering structure that sits at the street facing Classen as well as double doors that were taken off the bank’s original vault.

But, because the city code requires a certain number of parking spots, Morton said the wavy-roofed drive-thru has to go.

Morton said parking requirements are 184 spots, including six handicap spots. Plans submitted for the location include 222 parking spaces, with nine handicap spots. She said there will be 185 daily employees at the administration building, leaving room for visitors, professional development parking and a multi-purpose auditorium that will seat 400 people.

The news has broken the hearts of many in the city, calling it another casualty in the fight to maintain Oklahoma City’s unique mid-century modern architecture.

“That’s one thing that Oklahoma is well-known for and we have, used to [have] an abundance of but we’re seeing more and more of these iconic and unusual buildings come down every year,” said Lynne Rostochil, founder of the Okie Mod Squad Facebook group. “That roof line, I mean it looks like ocean waves. Where else are you going to see anything like that? Once that building’s gone, that unique roof design is gone as well, and it’s a treasure I think we should try to keep.”

The school board voted to call the structure surplus, saying anyone who wants to is welcome to take it away.

But, Rostochil said it doesn’t seem feasible. She’s hoping the school district will change its plan and find some way to re-purpose the structure where it stands.

“I’m just sad,” she said. “I’m sad that there isn’t someone out there who can think creatively to do something with this building.”

Time is running out. Morton said, one way or another, the drive-thru structure must be gone by February 25.

A petition to save the bank was started over the weekend.

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