As a part of the programmed space and needs for the OCU School of Law, a large multipurpose space that gives the school the flexibility to add a broader venue of activities was desired. To gain maximum value for every square foot, this space could perform many functions. On a day to day basis, the grand space would be used as the living room of the school and be a part of first impression for visitors and guests that is a part of creating the intangible air of greatness for the law school. In addition to being the living room, it provides the function of being a great reading room for the library. The space will have a variety of seating and open collaborative areas that will allow it to satisfy both of these functions concurrently.
The space itself is quite grand with its 2 story volume. It is also unique as it is one of the areas of the building where a significant amount of the historic fabric of the building is being preserved. The historic fabric in this area is a very visible part of the space. The space was the original auditorium of Oklahoma High School. The detailed plaster work that surrounds the proscenium opening and surrounds the fascia of the balcony is a part of the original skilled artisan work of the building when it was constructed in 1910.
The added benefit of the Grand Hall is that it can also provide space for special functions. The school can host any number of large event settings. The day to day furniture can be moved and replaced with a variety of other furnishings. The setting can be banquet tables that could be a part of an awards dinner or a special guest speaker forum that includes dinner. It could be set up with chairs for a special presentation or speaker’s series.
The school can also host as it has historically actual court proceedings with the judge’s bench set up at the location of the proscenium and appropriate seating configured in the remainder of the space. So the Grand Hall is truly conceived as a grand space that can be transformed into a number of special venues and then returned to its everyday grandeur of being the great reception/living room and great reading room for the school.
To achieve this, there needed to be some modifications to the building. In the buildings conversion from a high school to an upscale office building, a large opening was cut into the existing floor of the auditorium which created a multi-story atrium effect in the center of the building. To provide the kind of grand space envisioned for the functions of the law school and to allow the space to be flexible, the opening needed to be filled in to create a large contiguous floor area.
Filling in this opening constituted the primary structural work that would be a part of the project. The effort would entail analyzing the existing structure which included both the original structure and the later modifications to it to create the opening in the floor. And if that proved to have capacity, FSB structural engineers would need to come up with a way to close the opening.
The solution was to bring in several new structural steel beams and attach them to the existing structure. A metal deck would be laid over the new structure and reinforced concrete would then be placed over the deck to bring it flush with the existing floor.