The Heritage, formerly known as the Journal Record Building (JRB), is a 171,500 sf, six-story brick and stone edifice in the Classical Revival Style. Originally called the India Shrine Masonic Temple, it was built in 1922-23. Two sides are faced with limestone and decorated with Ionic columns; the remaining two are unornamented and bricked. Prior to the bombing, the exterior had undergone few changes other than a 1947 Art Deco alteration to the East entry.
This project entailed the adaptive use design for this National Register building shell, addition and interiors as well as buildout and interior design for the signature office tenant. Today the building is shared between The Heritage Office Building and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum.
This undertaking sought to preserve the significance of the building’s architecture and sensitive context. As an investment and as a legacy for this OKC monument, the redevelopment approaches are rooted in the distinct history of the building and of Oklahoma City, with a goal to forge connections with the downtown community and local/regional culture, carrying the past into a bright future.
The Comprehensive Restoration Included:
• Restoration of the East (main) monumental entry to the original Layton design
• At the request of SHPO and The Memorial, the bombed appearance of the National Memorial side was preserved: For example, once-shattered windows were set with darkened glass.
• Historic materials were recovered and reused.
• The interior was adapted for office use.
• Lighting and building components were incorporated which express the building’s [and the City’s] recovery and new energy, echoing the Memorial’s theme of regeneration.
• Congruent with the regenerative theme, a glass-curtain-walled penthouse was added to suggest a type of beacon.
• Great Plains and Generational themes are carried throughout the interior design including art installations
One of Oklahoma City’s most historically significant buildings, the India Temple Shrine Building was designed by Layton, Hicks & Forsyth for OKC’s 16 Masonic lodges. Shifting ownership and function over the next 60 years included 13 years unoccupied. It also housed the Journal Record newspaper, whose final printing (produced the day before) at that address was dated April 19, 1995, the day of the bombing. The JRB sustained significant damage. In the aftermath, the Oklahoma City National Memorial was built next door, becoming the most visited site in Oklahoma. The JRB was stabilized, partially restored and became the home of the National Memorial Museum (part of the National Memorial and an NPS affiliate).
The purchase by investors in 2013 and ensuring comprehensive restoration was completed in 2017.
Community Impact: Twenty-three years after the bombing, this restoration brings completion to an emblematic locale. The restoration imparts a strong sense of regeneration, history, and place, and its high quality exemplifies the vision and creativity that mark Oklahoma City’s current rise. Bringing 350 workers to downtown, the development also included a much-needed 380-space parking deck across the street. As a result, revitalization has occurred in this immediate locale, particularly on north and west sides.
• The non-traditional configuration [of a temple], plus later alterations, was not easily suited for alternate purposes. For example, the building layout included a monumental stair intended for access to larger spaces, and its preservation was a foremost design goal. Solution: Repurposing spaces within their existing sizes and uses was informed by making the existing circulation viable – and required some modest inefficiencies to ensure a good balance.
• Dearth of windows on the south side: Natural light wasn’t prioritized for an original (no longer extant) theatre, but is necessary for daily office occupancy. Working with the Memorial to add windows in a selective and careful way was critically important.
• Adding a new top floor: Extensive structural testing was required, and significant subsequent reinforcing was necessary to accommodate the new glass penthouse.
• Honoring the National Memorial’s design strategies was challenging, for example, matching darkened glass, maintaining all landscaping, controlling lighting levels, and quieting new building systems to be sensitive to the Memorial.
• Maintaining historic components with a changed use presented challenges. With the collaboration of historic authorities and the Design Team, a fitting and aesthetic outcome was reached.
• The building’s office condominium agreement between the National Memorial Museum and the signature client required sometimes daily coordination of all design and construction activities.
INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES: The Owner envisioned this restoration with themes of history and place. The design focuses on synthesizing the past with the future as a continuum.
INTERIOR DESIGN: This theme pervades many layers of the interior design, including the reuse of historic materials in new ways; materials that suggest the locale’s indigenous, settler, agricultural and cultural history, yet within modern forms that celebrate the City’s renaissance (Ex.A large custom cowhide rug as central to the signature client's anteroom); and both directly and indirectly in curated art. The design capitalizes on historic building features and emphasizes employee satisfaction.
Better visual access to the adjacent national memorial was sought to enhance the firm’s connection to this singular and historic location.
An art curator was retained to research and commission high-end art by Oklahoma artists, expressing themes of time’s continuum within Great Plains motifs. These installations greatly unify the building’s public areas and amplify its sense of place.
EXTERIOR DESIGN: Another theme is that of Regeneration, which follows previous museum approaches such as the glowing light installation on the Memorial-side wall. Lighting design and the glass penthouse symbolize a “beacon” to Oklahoma City, in which adversity has been met with recovery and renewal.
UNIQUE RESTORATION/RENOVATION APPROACHES:
• East [Main] Entry Historic Restoration: The 1940s Art Deco addition was removed, under which was discovered the “Masonic Temple” inscription in perfect condition. Photos from 1922‐23 were then used to replicate the shape and classical ornamentation of the 3‐door monumental entrance.
• Preserving the bombed appearance of one side of the building.
• Re-use of historic materials: Ex., salvaged original marble was hand-selected as tile walls for the main lobby.
• Production of 21st-century infrastructure and design for contemporary Class A Office that complements an early 20th-century building.
Physical ContextNot only is it a long-awaited completion of the City’s most visited and arguably most revered urban node, the restoration’s thoughtfulness imparts a strong sense of place. As a historic 1920s structure, The Heritage has witnessed the evolution of context around it. However, its environs were altered permanently by the 1995 bombing. Initially at ground zero of a major tragedy, the site became a Memorial of healing and remembrance. And indeed, it is said that the transformed Heritage building now extends the rarified space created by the National Memorial:
“While this site has seen millions of visitors over the past 23 years, the completion of The Heritage project has now made this block a national symbol of resilience and strength.”
Kari Watkins, Executive Director, Oklahoma City National Memorial
By preserving the side facing the Memorial in its bombed appearance, and returning the east (main) entryway to its original Layton design, the building’s exterior contextual connections are strengthened.
New windows on the wall facing the Memorial were sensitively placed so as not to disturb existing bombing relics (fire escape, 1995 bombing-period graffiti, etc.). A new window in the signature client's boardroom was located to afford a view of the Survivor Tree. This 90+ year old American elm survived the bombing and was preserved as the centerpiece of a terraced garden that also connects the Memorial with the Heritage property. This contextual connection is enhanced via the new fenestration.
Lighting and the glass penthouse “beacon,” designed along the regenerative themes of the National Memorial, render the building consistent with its setting. Additionally, Great Plains art (a $300,000 budget for high-end, largely public art from native Oklahoma artists) visibly connects visitors to this proud heritage from the very first moment of their entrance into the ground floor lobby, and thematically connects the building’s other public areas.