Wrecking Ball To Swing On Johansen’s Mummers Theater

Southwest
Friday, July 26, 2013
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Known as Stage Center following a renovation, Johansen’s groundbreaking Mummers Theater is Oklahoma City’s only internationally acclaimed piece of architecture (Courtesy Elliott+ Associates Architects)

Oklahoma City investment company Kestrel Investments has purchased recently deceased architect John Johansen‘s Mummers Theater for $4.275 million and plans to demolish the revolutionary building to construct a 20-plus story mixed use tower in its place. The news came as a blow to local and national preservation groups who worked unsuccessfully to save the groundbreaking architectural work by finding a new tenant and use for the idiosyncratic structure.

Johansen completed Mummers in 1970 during a heady period of experimentation within the fields of art and architecture. His decision to separate out the facility’s program elements and mechanical systems into discreet enclosures linked by bridges and tubes was inspired by the assemblies of electronic chip boards and established a hitherto unknown vocabulary for architecture. The building was renovated in the 1990s by Oklahoma City firm Elliott+ Associates Architects and rebranded Stage Center. It was closed after extensive flooding damaged the facility in 2010. According to News OK, The Oklahoma City Community Foundation gave the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the AIA five months to find a buyer for the site. When no buyer stepped forward, Kestrel’s bid was accepted. No architect has been announced, nor designs unveiled, for the new tower. Kestrel is still working on finding an anchor tenant for the development. If and when the project goes through it will be the first new speculative Class A office space to be built in downtown Oklahoma City in 30 years.

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