Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the future that was the past and is now the present...

bank of the future

church of tomorrow

two late 50's or early 60's chrome postcards from oaklahoma... one showing the bank of the future, and the other, the church of tomorrow.

it's interesting how much the bank uses a more stylized and familiar take on "the future"; while the church is awkward and comes from an aesthetic left field (although, since it is oaklahoma, maybe the architect was influenced by bruce goff). remarkably, both buildings are still standing and still used as bank and church...

i couldn't find information on either building's architect so i'd love to hear from anyone who knows any more. it seems the church caused quite a stir (as did the original pastor's personality and domestic life) when it was built. i found descriptions ranging from half buried egg, to space ship, and this nice little gem on the sound:

"According to one parishioner, the echoes were so bad under the egg-shaped done of Oklahoma City's First Christian Church of Tomorrow that when the minister spoke it sounded 'as though God were repeating every word he said, only much louder." In the hope of deflecting the echoes, a 20-ft saucer was hung from the apex, but it had no effect. An acoustician finally solved the problem by overpowering the echoes with an amplifying system. Carefully filtered sound now come from the round speakers on the walls and spreads evenly-and without echoes-over the congregation." Time-Life, Sound and Hearing, p189.

there's another interesting article on the church's history here

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Blogger Jeremy said...

Steve - a bit more on the ban

Another blog
with some pictures

And this reveals the architect

Among the best was the 1962 State Capitol Bank (now an Arvest branch) on Lincoln Boulevard, which looks like a gathering of baby flying saucers awaiting the return of the mother ship. It was designed by the Oklahoma architect Robert B. Roloff, who told me that the bank president who commissioned it wanted it ''more like a cocktail lounge than a bank.'' Mr. Roloff also designed the gold-domed Citizens State Bank (now a Bank One) in 1958, inspired by Buckminster Fuller's geodesics.
NYtimes: Glory Road And Its Storied Past
Published: July 22, 2001

1:46 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

ad a bit more on mr roloff

6:06 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

wow!!! thanks!!!!

7:20 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...


Have emailed you more infor, but so it is 'on the blog record' for future readers (the blog of the future) here is the church info, received in an email from the church (or probably someone in it)

The firm of "Conner and Pojezny" were the original designers. (Duane Conner and Fred Pojezny) However, before the construction phase started, Fred Pojezny had his own company, so Duane Conner took over the construction phase.


1:41 PM  
Blogger sroden said...

jeremy, you certainly win the sherlock holmes award!!!! thanks for the legwork (well, fingerwork actually...), this is great info. thanks for posting it!!!

2:00 PM  
Anonymous cris said...

Here is an interesting article about the history of the "Church of Tomorrow", the architect and the pastor of the church

6:53 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

My name is Lynne, and I'm Duane Conner's granddaughter. The First Christian Church campus is comprised of the main three buildings (the "egg" sanctuary, the Education building, and the Jewel Box theater), a youth center, and a church office building. Fred Pojezny designed the youth center and office building several years after the main complex was built. Unfortunately, the church has sold the parcel of its land for development, and these mid-century modern buildings will soon be history (to make way for a grocery store, I hear).

I've been doing a lot of research into my grandfather's work, and from everything I've found, it seems that he was the creative mind behind the main set of buildings. The comment made here about the dissolution of the Conner & Pojezny firm and my grandfather taking over after that is something I'd like to learn more about. Can you tell me where you got that information so that I can follow up with it?

As for the Roloff bank, unfortunately, it was remodeled several years ago when Arvest took over the building, and while it retains some of its funky UFO characteristics, it's not nearly as space age looking as it used to be. I hope that someday someone will restore it to its original glory because I've never seen another building like it anywhere.

There is a lot of fantastic mid mod architecture in OKC, and I've made it my mission to photograph as much of it as possible. I'll be posting a lot of photos on Flickr (a few are already up) for you to look at in the next couple of weeks.

Finally, some like-minded architecture lovers and I are thinking about putting some kind of mid-century architecture tour together here in OKC to highlight some of these wonderful buildings. If it gets off of the ground, I'll post something here and let you guys know.


6:47 AM  
Blogger sroden said...

hi lynne,
thanks for the comment and the information! if you click on jeremy's name in the comment section of this post you can get to his email and drop him a note. he did a lot of research to help me get the architect's names, etc. i can't believe these buildings are endangered. you might contact local historical societys and even the national registry of historic landmarks. if you can get the city to make it a landmark it can't be torn down. it would be an incredible shame to lose such a building. i live in los angeles, and we have had so many important mid century masterpieces lost to parking lots, and ugly new tract homes. you should really try contacting the newspaper and anyone else who will listen about the building, if you can get an article in the paper about it being torn down you might be able to save it. you should also see if there are any local historical societies and even more so any kind of architectural historical societies - there should be an oklahoma chapter of the society of archiectural historians. you might also try the national trust for historic preservation. unfortunately it's a difficult task and the developer usually wins. let me know about the flickr site, i'd love to see images. take as many pictures of these buildings as you possibly can - inside and out - before they disappear. it would be a tragedy if they were lost.
good luck!

8:06 AM  
Blogger Lynne said...

I know that a lot of community members are trying to stop the development of this area (a neighborhood backs up to it), but the former mayor of OKC is one of the guys who wants to develop the land, so I'm sure that it will go forward. I will pursue the avenues you suggested, however, to see if we can stop it.

Also, I've posted a lot of photos of the church, youth center, and office building, along with a lot of other mid century buildings in OKC on Flickr -- here's the link:

A group of us is interested in perhaps putting a book, a bus tour, or at least a website together of mid mod architecture in this part of the country. There are so many fantastic buildings here, and I think that if we draw attention to them, they won't be as likely to be torn down in the future. One can hope, anyway.

Thanks for all of your advice, and I'll keep you posted on what happens here with the youth center.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Wow, thanks to everyone for their research and comments. I'm Fred Pojezny's grandson. I never knew this church was such a standout example of mid-century architecture. Lynne, I'm curious about the dissolution of Conner & Pojezny as well. Next time I have my grandma on the phone, I'll ask her if she knows anything.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


While doing research into my grandfather's work, I've also taken photos of buildings Fred Pojezny designed after the firm broke up. If you want to see them, go here:

I've wanted to talk to your grandmother about what she remembers about Conner & Pojezny, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. Would love to meet her and see the great house your grandfather designed and built for your family -- it's fantastic!

Also, famed architectural photographer, Julius Shulman, took photos of two Conner & Pojezny buildings in the early 50's, and the OKC Museum of Art will be hosting an exhibit of Shulman's OK work from April 30 - June 7. Both of these buildings will appear in the exhibit, and there will be a lot of other great events going on during that time, too. If you send me an email via Flickr, I'll send you more details.

Hope to hear from you soon!


8:52 AM  

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