Oklahoma, USA. 2019

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2019
  • Clients: Pivot Project

Classen16 is a new-build mixed-use apartment and commercial building that sits on the cusp of a heavily-used arterial road and the vibrant, walkable Plaza District of Oklahoma City. Acting as a mediator between these contrasting contexts, the building adopts a domestic scale that steps in discrete blocks and rises to address the business corridor of Classen Boulevard. The form hugs the street edge, concealing surface parking and residents’ amenity areas from the adjacent roads. The streetscape is enlivened with a generous planted buffer and raised stoops to all the ground floor homes. The building is clad with a shimmering, scale-like aluminium shake that reacts to the changing quality of light throughout the day.


Defining an appropriate gateway between a fast growing business corridor and a vibrant, residential-scale arts district, Classen16 presents an architectural strategy that is derived from its context. The building is primarily three stories with top floor ‘pop-ups’ adding volume and value to these units; inboard balconies throughout provide private exterior space to each tenant. The site orientation activates street frontage along both Classen Boulevard and NW 16th Street and in turn creates a private enclosure on the north half of the site where service isles, tenant parking and landscape amenity zones are located.

The typology of apartments wrapped around a common open air stair allows each block of units to step, matching the site topography, across the length of the site. By expressing this design strategy in the architecture the massing of the five residential blocks responds to the two very different contexts. The domestic scale unit modules drop down in overall height to the west upon entering the predominately two story residential structures on 16th St, while the east block rises up towards Classen Blvd, giving prominence to the ground floor retail and allowing for double-height units that enjoy views over the city.

Raised ground floor slabs allow a front stoop to the ground floor units that addresses the street and pedestrian edge; it provides a threshold that improves visual privacy. The street edge is further activated by commercial patio zones, large landscaping zones, public angled street parking and a tenant grove and communal space. The scheme comprises 48 residential units of one- and two-bedrooms, with a 3,800 square foot retail space. The building is clad with an offset aluminium shake whose scaly character reflects the changing quality of light throughout the day. A subtle nod to the locally-renowned seafood restaurant that once occupied the site, the cladding also harkens back to utilitarian farm buildings common throughout the Midwest, placing the building in a broader context by translating this rural vernacular to a downtown urban setting.

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