Oak Tower

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
shinatoo
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Oak Tower

Post by shinatoo » Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:46 pm

Slow day on the rag, so I thought I would post something I just learned about the Oak Tower.
The tower was originally 14 stories (185 feet), without any set-backs, but the fast-growing telephone company soon required more space. An addition completed in 1929 doubled the tower's height and made it the tallest building in Missouri until the Kansas City Power & Light Building surpassed it in 1931.[3][4]

Oak Tower's top half was built with Haydite, the first modern structural lightweight concrete, which had recently been invented and patented in Kansas City by Stephen J. Hayde. The tower's 1929 expansion was the first major project to use the new building material, and it allowed the addition of fourteen new stories, six more than would have been possible using conventional concrete.[5][6]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Tower

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by PumpkinStalker » Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:42 pm

I also did not know that. I knew it used to be heavily gothic but was all stripped off in the 70s or something. Sucks....

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/73 ... a07d7c.jpg

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by loftguy » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:22 pm

I also did not know.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by pash » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:16 pm

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Last edited by pash on Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by longviewmo » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:36 pm

pash wrote:The Wikipedia article about downtown is particularly egregious. ...
Why? You don't believe the "IRS Headquarters" has a billion square feet of space?

IIRC, they stripped Oak Tower because the detailing was falling off?

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by mykn » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:02 pm

I was told that it was a desperate attempt to modernize the building in an attempt to get tenants

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by Highlander » Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:30 pm

At least it is not yellow and white any more. THAT was an eyesore. Is the building vacant?

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by moderne » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:15 pm

SW Bell actually did plan to enlarge the building with a twin on the McGee side and a tall gothic spire in between. It would have made it not only the largest building downtown, but also the tallest. There was also a plan in the late eighties to modify the "modernization" with vertical window panels to give it a deco-esque look complete with plantings cascading over the setbacks.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by JLowe2018 » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:17 pm

moderne wrote:SW Bell actually did plan to enlarge the building with a twin on the McGee side and a tall gothic spire in between. It would have made it not only the largest building downtown, but also the tallest. There was also a plan in the late eighties to modify the "modernization" with vertical window panels to give it a deco-esque look complete with plantings cascading over the setbacks.
Any images of either of these old plans?

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by moderne » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:32 pm

I have the magazine and newspaper clippings stuck between the pages of the KC architecture books' entry on this building. Someday I will unpack the box the book is in and scan the articles.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:41 pm

moderne wrote:SW Bell actually did plan to enlarge the building with a twin on the McGee side and a tall gothic spire in between. It would have made it not only the largest building downtown, but also the tallest. There was also a plan in the late eighties to modify the "modernization" with vertical window panels to give it a deco-esque look complete with plantings cascading over the setbacks.
I'm building up a collection of unbuilt/alternative project proposals for Kansas City buildings and was wondering if you ever came across those articles. I'd love to include them.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by NorthOak » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:17 am

TheLastGentleman wrote: I'm building up a collection of unbuilt/alternative project proposals for Kansas City buildings and was wondering if you ever came across those articles. I'd love to include them.
Is the R.H. Sailors Project (1986) included? It was one of the top 10 worst failures in KC development history.

The Sailors Project would have saved thousands of jobs and dozens of businesses from moving to Johnson Cty. It also would have let corporations know that the city was "open for business" in the future. The city's failure to let Sailors proceed was the final nail in the coffin of KC, and the milk & honey for Corporate Woods to become the major business center for the metro. The largest tower was to be 53 stories tall. Another 32 stories tall.

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/08/31/reale ... ml?mcubz=3

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Instead we got this. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by shinatoo » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:41 am

moderne wrote:I have the magazine and newspaper clippings stuck between the pages of the KC architecture books' entry on this building. Someday I will unpack the box the book is in and scan the articles.
Someday never comes.
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:51 am

I hadn't heard of that one before! Yeah, I'll include it. Thanks for mentioning it

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by FangKC » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:36 pm

There was also another plan that came after the Sailors Project for the same site. It was mostly a retail mall.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/18/busin ... -mall.html
Despite a nationwide slowdown in the construction of new shopping centers, developers here are moving forward with a plan for a new mall within blocks of Country Club Plaza, a 70-year-old regional shopping center.

The use of the 17-acre site has long been a sensitive issue in Kansas City, partly because of fears that a second commercial center might undermine Country Club Plaza, which is an object of civic pride and a local landmark. The proposal will come before the City Council for approval of tax-increment financing, which helps to offset development costs. Money for this type of financing comes largely from the property taxes generated by major new projects.

The developer is Michael J. Floersheim, a commodities broker with interests in oil, ore and real estate, who acquired most of the land after the plan of another developer was never fully carried out. The other developer was R. H. Sailors & Company, which won approval for tax abatement, granted under Chapter 353 of the Missouri Redevelopment Law, in 1987 after a sharp political battle. The Sailors' plan was for high-rise apartments and offices. Some of the office space but none of the apartments were built.

The Floersheim plan calls for 1.7 million square feet of office and shopping space in a development called Park Central Plaza. It would have two office buildings of 477,000 square feet, one of 8 stories and the other of 14 stories, and a retail component of 740,000 square feet, of which 370,000 square feet would be shops and restaurants.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:18 pm

Going back to Oak Tower itself, I recently went in the lobby of the building just to see what was in there. I was surprised to find that the room just to the right of the entrance is still decorated in art deco! They even have framed photos and blueprints of the building. I spoke to the one person working in there, and she very enthusiastically showed me around. One of the most interesting things she told me was that the entrance canopy had been dumped in a junkyard after the modernization took place, and after the building changed ownership the new owner saw an old photo showing the canopy and demanded it be found and reattached. It was, and the photo in question is on display in that room. I also asked her if there was any possibility of the building's terracotta being restored. She seemed convinced it would be impossible, and said it's all gone. I was inclined to agree with her, except that I later realized the first three floors were once also covered in stucco, but are now fully restored. I realize restoring three floors is nothing compared to restoring an entire skyscraper, but I couldn't imagine it would be impossible. What do you all think?

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by JLowe2018 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:43 pm

TheLastGentleman wrote:Going back to Oak Tower itself, I recently went in the lobby of the building just to see what was in there. I was surprised to find that the room just to the right of the entrance is still decorated in art deco! They even have framed photos and blueprints of the building. I spoke to the one person working in there, and she very enthusiastically showed me around. One of the most interesting things she told me was that the entrance canopy had been dumped in a junkyard after the modernization took place, and after the building changed ownership the new owner saw an old photo showing the canopy and demanded it be found and reattached. It was, and the photo in question is on display in that room. I also asked her if there was any possibility of the building's terracotta being restored. She seemed convinced it would be impossible, and said it's all gone. I was inclined to agree with her, except that I later realized the first three floors were once also covered in stucco, but are now fully restored. I realize restoring three floors is nothing compared to restoring an entire skyscraper, but I couldn't imagine it would be impossible. What do you all think?
I bet it is possible it could be either restored or recreated but the costs would be astronomical. I doubt there's any use for the building anytime soon that could cover such costs of restoration.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:32 pm

I'm pretty sure there is still at least some detailing still under the stucco surface. I found this on the Emporis page for the building...

"When SWBT sold the building in 1974, the new owners covered the original terra-cotta skin with a white plaster-like substance over a wire cage which had been attached to the structure to hold the new facing."

So, while the anchors for the cage surely damaged the siding, I bet most of the detailing is left. I also think the restoration of the bottom floors was done, at least in part, by just exposing what was under the cage. The mystery, then, is in how much repair work was needed afterwards. I bet it wasn't much, if any, because you can still see what look like drill holes in the stonework. Now, whether this is the same for the rest of the building, I have no idea, but it gives me some hope that maybe, someday, it could all get fixed up.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by missingkc » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:32 am

I think the emporis report is wrong. I was attending UMKC and living North when the Gothic disappeared. Twice a day I drove down Oak. It was a long time ago, but I'm pretty sure I remember it being removed. I sure remember feeling sick to my stomach.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by loftguy » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:06 am

I was around downtown when that work was being done too.
Workers were swarming the "Telephone" building on scaffolding with hand-held jackhammers.
They leveled off the outer skin of the building, filling endless dumpsters with terracotta detail.

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