Firm Honored for Utica Place

The American Institute of Architects recently honored Miles Associates Architects for its design of mixed-use infill development Utica Place.
The firm was one of eight selected from a pool of 115 applicants in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska to be awarded a Merit Award from the AIA Central States Design Excellence Awards.
Utica Place, the first newly constructed, mixed-use development at 2200 S. Utica Place, features approximately 100,000 SF of office space and 50,000 SF of living space, divided into nine penthouse apartments. But while the building’s purpose follows the latest development trend — inserting high-density structures into an urban setting and mixing residential and other purposes — its aesthetic design harkens to the Mediterranean-influenced oil mansions dotting the surrounding neighborhoods.
Rachel Zebrowski, AIA, studio director for Miles Associates, said it was for this reason being recognized by the AIA was particularly significant.
“This award in particular is tremendous,” she said. “Typically, an architectural selection committee will say, ‘What’s original? What’s new? What’s different?’
“A project like this could have easily been ignored because the Mediterranean approach is not new. I am extremely pleased (the jury) saw it took diligence to make this something beyond a Mediterranean rip-off.”
The problem with replicating a heavily built style, Zebrowski said, is “the risk of producing a caricature rather than a thoughtful use of craftsmanship and composition.”
She said her team avoided this misstep by addressing the project as sincerely as possible.
“When we first got some of the concept sketches, there was a sense of proportion that was slightly different,” Zebrowski said. “I think straightening that out by trying to stay true to some of the formulas and composition that would have been original to a building of this type was critical.”
She also credits developers/owners John and Chris Bumgarner’s insistence on quality building materials like Blue Batigue limestone, carved in Spain.
“We give a lot of accolade to the insistence on authentic materials,” Zebrowski said. “We applaud the developer for making those choices, which are expensive and take a great deal more attention to detail.”
She said authenticity, though costly, was key.
“You can come so close on a project like this, and if you nail it, it’s great. But if you miss it, it’s a joke,” she said.
John and Chris Bumgarner own Utica Place. Cowen Construction oversaw construction.
Founded in 1980, Miles Associates is an architectural, planning and interior design firm. The firm has studios in Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and Tulsa.  

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