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CAF Shows Some Love to the Prairie Land

By Sarah Dahnke in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 28, 2006 3:08PM

Is the 50th anniversary of a historic Frank Lloyd Wright building worth pausing that "Dick in a Box" video and paying attention for a minute or two? What if we told you that building was in Bartlesville, OK? We can see you going back to the YouTube window. You may not give a rat's ass about an architectural wonder in a town you've never heard of, but the Chicago Architecture Foundation does.

2006_12_28_pricetower.jpg"Prairie Skyscraper: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower", an exhibit that celebrates Wright's tallest creation and one of only two vertical buildings constructed that he designed, opens at the CAF on Jan. 18. The exhibit will not only contain photographs of the masterpiece, but it will also feature original furnishings, such as desks, chairs, tables and textiles designed by Wright.

So what exactly is the Price Tower, and why is it in Oklahoma? Beginning in the 1920s, Bartlesville was a booming little oil town, which housed the headquarters of Phillips Petroleum. By the 1950s, Harold C. Price, founder of the H.C. Price Company, a builder of oil and gas pipelines, was looking to build a fancy new headquarters in Bartlesville and commissioned Wright to design the building. The result was an early experiment in sustainable architecture - a building designed to combine business offices, retail and apartments, all in one tall, slender package.

Chicagoist is actually from the small city of Bartlesville, OK, and vividly remembers school field trips through the building before they converted the top floors into a hotel and restaurant. By far, the most stunning part of the trip was always Mr. Price's office, which included a triangular-shaped desk built into the wall and a matching triangular trashcan. In fact, the pyramid shape of the building is awe-inspiring and unparalleled in any of Wright's other designs. Although the Price Company left Bartlesville in the 80s, and Phillips moved its headquarters to Houston after merging with Conoco in 2001, the Price Tower has always served as a beacon to architectural fanatics across the world.

You can hit "play" on your YouTube window now.