Oak Tower

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

Post by wahoowa » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:29 pm

good post TLG. always enjoy seeing what you find

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:10 pm

wahoowa wrote:good post TLG. always enjoy seeing what you find
Thank you! Glad you liked it!

missingkc
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by missingkc » Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:15 pm

This technology made me think of Oak Tower and what we all wish could happen to it.

https://tinyurl.com/y8vkay7m

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Thu Apr 12, 2018 9:05 pm

missingkc wrote:This technology made me think of Oak Tower and what we all wish could happen to it.

https://tinyurl.com/y8vkay7m
Yeah, that would come in handy. Like I've said before, though, I really don't think much of the decoration is missing. They broke off the tallest spires, but I think that's about it.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by shinatoo » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:35 am

Looks like Wash U of STL. Like it. It should age well.
Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:32 pm

Old business journal article I found from 1996. I offer this as evidence that they once planned to restore more than the first 3 floors.
Oak Tower, built 77 years ago at 324 E. 11th St. in Kansas City and saddled with high vacancies in recent years, is coming back to life as a high-tech home for telecommunications companies.

US ONE Communications Corp., a local phone service provider, has leased about 8,000 square feet on the building's 10th floor. Its commitment raises the 220,000-square-foot structure's occupancy to almost 80 percent, said Sean O'Byrne at Colliers Turley Martin Kerr & Co., leasing agent for Oak Tower.

Two other telecommunications companies already are housed in the building: Kansas City FiberNet and Brooks Fiber Properties. Another two phone companies also are looking at space, O'Byrne said.

Oak Tower was built for Southwestern Bell, which remained through the mid-1960s. Its floors are designed to support heavy telecommunications equipment, and its large vertical shafts can accommodate conduit that runs down to connect with fiber-optic lines embedded in the street.

The building's Gothic architecture, which was covered by aluminum sheeting and stucco in the 1970s, is being restored. Passers-by can follow the progress of leasing because yellow-framed checked glass windows are being replaced for new tenants.
https://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/ ... lumn2.html

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:06 am

Cool pictures in the lobby. There are others but I didn't want to be too much of a bother.

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Apparently this is the picture that inspired the owner to hunt down the entrance canopy, which had been thrown in a junk yard during the 70s remodel

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by FangKC » Fri Aug 03, 2018 12:20 am

I'm surprised the canopy wasn't cut into pieces and melted down as scrap metal. It's kind of hard to sell something that large and have it fit another building as a canopy. It's fortunate the original building got it back.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:05 pm

Finally found a picture clearly showing the yellow/white color scheme. It's from this set of pictures on the UMKC library site.

https://dl.mospace.umsystem.edu/umkc/is ... %3Abarrett

Very interesting stuff from the 70s and 80s. Lots of aerial shots.

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Fri Dec 21, 2018 10:05 pm

I got to go out on one of the setbacks and inspect the condition of the stucco. I also confirmed that it simply covers the terracotta and definitely didn't replace it. It's all still there and in reasonable condition. A restoration is 100% possible with the right financing.

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Check out that gully. Big hole through the loop.

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At the base of the tower. Notice the patches in the terra cotta where the stucco used to be pinned.

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missingkc
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by missingkc » Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:48 am

wow. So happy to see that the terracotta is still there.

moderne
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by moderne » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:13 am

Thank you LastGentleman for documenting this old grand dame. Its gothic sillhouette was the most evocative and romantic thing on the skyline. It would take so much $$$ to restore this. One of the reasons for the 1970's modernization was supposedly deterioration and failure of the terra cotta cladding. Was this a falsehood?

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wahoowa
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by wahoowa » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:19 am

that is so fucking cool. tyvm for the photos

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TheLastGentleman
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:58 am

moderne wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:13 am
One of the reasons for the 1970's modernization was supposedly deterioration and failure of the terra cotta cladding. Was this a falsehood?
I've been thinking about that. It's possible that they weren't referring to all the cladding, but only to the spires, since they were the only parts removed from what I can tell. Maybe they were deteriorating while everything else was still in good shape. That, or they made it up to justify the modernization. We may never know for sure.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:03 pm

Notice how much is exposed on the west side. If it was crumbling when they modernized the building, we surely would've seen more damage, pieces coming off, ect by now

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by FangKC » Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:09 am

DId Southwestern Bell Telephone still own the building when the cladding was added? If so, AT&T's local office might still have the records discussing this stored somewhere. If the architecture firm that designed the cladding can be discovered, their archives probably explain why it was done.

I doubt anyone is going to pay to restore the terra cotta. The Oak Tower is slowly becoming more of a fiber transit data center, and less an office building.

moderne
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by moderne » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:12 am

SW Bell did not own the building then. The reno was done I believe by Alexander Barkett and Civic Plaza National Bank (13th & Oak). Also responsible for the now undone modernization of the Palace at 12th & Grand.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by FangKC » Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:40 pm

I remember that hideous cladding on the Palace building. Looked like something one would see in downtown Santiago, Chile in the 60s.

https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/85000102.pdf

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KC_JAYHAWK
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Re: Oak Tower

Post by KC_JAYHAWK » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:07 pm

Interesting. I honestly think if the windows were all replaced with dark bronze and the stucco and brick were repainted, it would look much better. The original terra cotta is probably not repairable, so fabricated reproduction siding would have to be used.

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Re: Oak Tower

Post by TheLastGentleman » Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:48 am

KC_JAYHAWK wrote:
Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:07 pm
Interesting. I honestly think if the windows were all replaced with dark bronze and the stucco and brick were repainted, it would look much better. The original terra cotta is probably not repairable, so fabricated reproduction siding would have to be used.
It's totally repairable. First of all, check out the work on the Hotel Indigo. Entire sections of the terra cotta was just plain gone or chewed up, but they managed to restore the building like nothing happened.

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The damage the terra cotta on Oak Tower has sustained appears to be comparatively less. Notice how well preserved the pieces behind the cladding appear.

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That's not to mention the pieces that are exposed, none of which are seriously damaged from what I've seen

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Of course, the parts under the stucco have been punctured by the metal frame, but there's precedent for the restoration of those portions on this very building!

Check out the two patches in the terra cotta on the first floor of the building

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That's right, part of the terra cotta has already been restored, and has been since the late 80s. Here it is before it was removed

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And here it is today

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There are other examples of demodernizations, like the palace clothing building a few blocks away. As mentioned by moderne a few posts back, it was likely carried out by the same person that modernized Oak Tower.

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There's also the Schofield Building in Cleveland

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I also find the suggestion that the stucco can or should be kept patently absurd. The frame is deteriorating. I saw at least three large holes on my visit, and I only got out on one setback. Who knows what the rest of the frame is like.

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I have absolutely no idea how it's even allowed to remain attached. Seems like this sort of thing should be considered a safety hazard in the same way the supposedly-unstable terra cotta was. I just don't get it.

Of course, it is still going to be a lot of money to restore it, but it can be done, and probably for much less than one may first expect. The Pickwick development has shown that developers are willing to invest in projects this far east, so it's not too far fetched that another massive damaged historic building would attract something similar.

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