Material removed from OKC’s First National Center to benefit nonprofit
By Steve Lackmeyer, Oklahoman
Call it a miracle, call it serendipity.
With demolition continuing in the sprawling 1 million square foot First National Center, developer Gary Brooks was looking to recycle 1,620 light fixtures and dozens of doors installed in the east tower by Devon Energy about a dozen years ago.
The east tower, built in 1972 and facing Broadway, is set to be gutted to be converted into egress to the middle building, built in 1956 and set to be converted into structured parking and retail that will be a part of conversion of the historic Art Deco 1931 tower into a hotel and upscale apartments.
Just emptying out the east tower was going to pose some challenges.
Brooks isn’t just looking to clear out the buildings; he wants to recycle as much of it as possible to claim LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
“It’s one goal I think we need to pursue,” Brooks said. “While LEED certification has not been something that has taken hold in central U.S., it’s my opinion that in a decade having buildings that have an aggressive sustainability model will be significant. I think it’s something as a developer I have an obligation to do if I can do it within reason.”
So far the project is running at 61 points, just one point over the minimum needed for LEED gold status. And unlike new construction, opportunities to go with rain collection systems and other efforts used with construction of Devon Energy Center don’t come as easily for a historic building.
Interior debris removal began in February with the hiring of almost two dozen participants in Firststep, a work-therapy program that is often a last chance to avoid prison and to get back on a good track. Those who choose to participate in Firststep end up doing work on job sites that involve hard work in less than wonderful conditions.
This is where the dots start to connect.
When Devon Energy renovated several floors of First National’s east tower, the company’s workforce was overflowing its former headquarters at 20 N Broadway and planning was already underway for its future 50-story headquarters. The company invested in the temporary space at First National to ensure those working in the offices were treated as well as those in the headquarters across the street.