- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Journal Record, March 10, 2014

Ready for the next stage

Despite the best of efforts, Oklahoma City’s Stage Center is ready for the wrecking ball.

Stage Center, which opened in 1970, has been unoccupied and in disrepair since it flooded in 2010 and ownership reverted from the Arts Council of Oklahoma City to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

When the foundation decided to put the property on the market, a request for proposals went out from the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in case someone had a workable plan for the architectural icon. The only group to offer an idea imagined the building as a children’s museum, but found themselves long on heart but short on cash.

Tracey Zeeck, who led that group, concluded a children’s museum would have to find a different home. “The people who love the building seem to be the people who don’t have the money, unfortunately,” she said in July 2010.

Preservation Oklahoma and the Central Oklahoma chapter of the American Institute of Architects have led the effort to save the building, holding that it is an important piece of architectural history.

But even local architect Al Bode, who oversaw construction of John Johansen’s design, acknowledged that the building’s flaws make it economically unworkable.

Downtown Oklahoma City is in the midst of a redesign that is attracting the retail and residential components that never materialized under the I.M. Pei plan adopted in 1965. No one discounts the design’s unique character. And if remodeling Stage Center for use as a museum, a theater, or other public space were economically practical, someone would surely undertake the job.

Sentiment for the theater runs high, but it is clear that no one is willing to pay for its renovation or upkeep.

John Ruskin said in his 1873 essay, The Virtues of Architecture, that, “We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it.”

That’s the problem with Stage Center. We may argue without resolution about whether it is pleasing and graceful, but its inability to do its practical duty is beyond debate.

It will be with a heavy heart, but it’s time for Stage Center to go. We deeply hope that the next structure on the site is as unique as its predecessor, but as useful as it is interesting.


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