Michael General: The design of this Tulsa workplace constructing grew to become a 12-story science experiment native information
“It’s the coolest place I’ve ever worked,” says Eric Grimshaw, a corporate attorney who had a corner office on the top floor in the 1990s.
Perhaps he felt especially connected because the building was being built by the old Grimshaw Construction Company, run by Eric’s grandfather, father, and uncle.
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The family business started during Tulsa’s Art Deco heyday, but it’s best remembered when it worked on some of the city’s most iconic mid-century landmarks, including the Central Library and Tulsa International Airport.
The Warren Building, now known as the International Plaza, turned out to be a largely successful experiment in energy efficiency, according to Grimshaw. It stayed mostly cool in summer and mostly warm in winter.
“But it could struggle on the hottest or coldest days,” he recalls. “We had a full-time civil engineer who had to work very hard.”
The architect, part of the famous Skidmore, Owings & Merrill company, designed some of the world’s most famous skyscrapers, including the John Hancock Center in Chicago and the Sears Tower, which was the tallest building in the western hemisphere for 41 years.
But Graham abandoned the concept of the “neutralizing wall” after upgraded versions of insulating glass became available just a few years after Warren Petroleum moved to its new headquarters.