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.

1. Holding the Street Edge Built form holds street edge on NW 16th Street and Classen Boulevard. Opportunity for active street frontage: retail unit on Classen Blvd and residential entrances on 16th St. Creates enclosure on north half of the site, increasing privacy and perceived security.

2. Landscape Buffer Leave landscape buffer between residential and parking lot, and residential and sidewalk. The build-on-grade nature of the proposal and the requirement for on-site parking limits the residual site for landscaping. Therefore planting is maximized in a margin alongside residential accommodation. This acts as a visual amenity and a privacy screen.

3. Slope of the Site The building reacts to the site topography, stepping along its length. The typology of four residential units around a commons access stair allows the blocks to step down the site, a feature to be expressed in the architecture. Residential entrances are clearly legible, denoted by a strong cut in the built form. The raised ground floor level above the sidewalk is translated into a raised stoop, and improves visual privacy into the first floor units.

4. Reacting to Context Massing of the building responds to differing context. The building is for the most part three stories, not out of keeping with other neighbouring residential structures. The block form of the west block steps down to address the predominantly two-story residential structures along 16th Street. The east block rises up to address Classen Blvd, giving prominence to the retail accommodation at first floor, and where special residential units capitalize on views downtown.

5. Special Residential Units The upper floor of the building presents opportunities for increased ceiling height, rooflights, or mezzanines. Value can be added to the third story units by increasing floor-to-ceiling heights and by introducing high-level natural light from rooflights or clerestory windows. Additionally, select units include mezzanine accommodation. These devices are used to shape the ridgeline of the building, to create variation in the facade and achieve the desired massing.


6. Overall Site Strategy Division of the long form into discrete blocks with legible shared entrances. The party wall lines between blocks become the stepping point for the building to descend the sloped street.


Sketch bay study


Sketch view from the sidewalk, with substantial planting zone and stoops


Sketch view from the junction of 16th St and Classen, showing the building massing rising to the corner


Sketch aerial perspective




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