Category Archives: Historic Preservation

Design Discovery Labs

WPress GraphicCreating a collaborative environment amongst stakeholders is a key strategy to designing a new building or redefining existing spaces. FSB has developed a specialized design workshop process – FSB Design Discovery Lab – that creates a partnership between an owner and the design team resulting in highly successful projects.

FSB Design Discovery Lab is a collective, partnering exercise, between all stakeholders and the design team. These forums IMG_1094are work sessions that explore facility uses, defines user needs and experiences, and ultimately outline a strategic design direction for the space.

The Discovery Lab promotes critical thinking, communication, creative problem solving and collaboration. Intersecting thoughts and ideas, from varying stakeholder points of view, provides opportunities to assess, engage, agree or disagree on important project issues – which is essential to significantly strengthening final project outcomes.

FSB’s Discovery Labs enable the entire team – stakeholders and designers – to:

Share knowledge

  • New and innovative thinking will remain unrealized unless there are opportunities to shape ideas by involving all key players.

Create community

  • Providing an open forum to talk about stakeholder roles in a project opens doors to forming partnerships – that may not have existed – and promotes collaboration beyond the workshop.

Facilitate decision-making

  • An essential first step in successfully designing a Fred_VWSnew space is to establish expectations, define purpose and outline the process that will be needed to meet the goals. Establishing common ground is key to encouraging stakeholders to work together and, in the end, reach consensus.

FSB’s signature approach to defining a client’s needs, through a collaborative Discovery Lab environment, was recently demonstrated on the Oklahoma State Capitol Building Interior Restoration Project. As part of this project, FSB and Capitol Design Team are redefining the visitor experience. Fred Schmidt, FSB principal and project leader, recently facilitated a Discovery Lab that provided the design framework for this aspect of this highly visible and historically significant project.

Held in FSB’s newly designed Team Lab space, this five hour, collaboration session included Capitol Restoration Committee members, key stakeholders, art historians, collection curators, historical preservationists and representatives from the design-build team.

The Discovery Lab focused on Brainstorming and Creative Thinking for four main topics:

1. The New Context of the Capitol’s Visitors Level
Current Visitor Experience

  • Pros: what’s working well with the current experience?New Exp Diagram
  • Cons: what’s not working as well?

2. If These Walls Could Talk

  • What do you want the architecture to say to the visitor?
  • What do you want the initial thoughts of the visitor to be?
  • What is the one thing you would like a visitor to remember at the conclusion of their visit?

 3. Big Picture Ideas – Defining Form and Function

  •  What are the performance requirements that will Visitor Exp - Context trimshape the building design?
  • What are the issues that will affect building shape?

4. Telling a Story

  • What is the symbolism that creates a connection?
  • What is important to creating a progression of experiences?
  • How can we connect the visitor to the space being Big Ideas‘theirs’?
    • This is your state
    • This is your state house
    • This is your place of government
    • This is your state’s story
  • How can we demonstrate that this is where Oklahoma Government history is made?
  • Who do we want to showcase: famous men, famous women?

Upon completion of the Design Lab, all participants emerged with a clear vision of the goals and objectives for the new visitor center. A detailed storyline to guide the desired visitor experience was established, providing the design team with the needed direction to pursue creative architectural solutions.

The FSB Design Discovery Lab allows owners to:

  • participate in a collaborative workshop setting
  • visually ‘see’ and represent the project prior to formal design
  • be involved in creating their own spaces in collaboration with the design team
  • obtain buy-in to both the project and business objectives
  • express their experiences – increased understanding and empathy from the design team
  • reduce stakeholder conflicts and factions working in silos
  • make better strategic decisions and reach stakeholder consensus and commitment
  • define and support synergies in inter-disciplinary strategies
  • create cross-functional team development, understanding and learning
  • generate enthusiasm and positive energy towards the project

If you are interested in learning more about how the Design Discovery Lab experience can benefit your project or want to learn more about the Oklahoma State Capitol Building Interior Restoration Project, visit us at or contact Fred Schmidt at 405.840.2931.


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Divergent View 3

FOR WEB - Hrdy_Self-Portrait 1_HR

Olinka Hrdy, an artist of mystery

The new home of the Oklahoma City University School of Law is the second renovation of what was once Central High School in Oklahoma City and was designed by FSB architects engineers planners. The historic building originally designed in 1909 is considered Collegiate Gothic style and is a work of art through the detailing created by skilled artisan laborers that carved the limestone, laid the mosaic tile and tooled the elaborate plaster. The building, however, contains artwork created by a little known Oklahoma artist that was born in Prague. Continue reading

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Items of Engineering Interest

IMG_2486 - Copy

Attic Space in OCU School of Law Houses Existing AHU’s

I was recently the luncheon speaker for the Engineers Club of Oklahoma City (ECOC). There was interest in the OCU School of Law a current FSB project under construction. There has been a series of recent press on the project lending to it being a current topic of interest. The presentation I had readily available was from a recent presentation at the State Historic Preservation Conference. The presentation focused on the history of the building going back to its original construction as Oklahoma High School in 1909. I decided I needed to incorporate something about the engineering systems considering my audience. Continue reading

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The Grand Hall

Grand Hall 2

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. Continue reading

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Saving History – one piece at a time

 Main E Entry-1

As a part of the construction documents for the conversion of the American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Company building (latest occupants with previous occupants being One Bell Central and Central High School) into the OCU School of Law, FSB laid out specific instructions for saving the history of Oklahoma High School through the preservation of the remaining pieces historic fabric inside the facility. At the time of the original construction in 1910 the workmen were true craftsmen and artisans at their respective trades. In particular, the pieces of history remaining in the building were primarily the work of tile setters and plasterers. The workmanship is incredible and approaches a level of quality of artwork. Continue reading

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History and the Threads of Its Fabric

The building which is the centerpiece of our project is on the National Register of Historic Places. Doing work on a historic building brings into play a protocol of respect for the structure. The National Park Service who oversees the preservation of these historic structures has a healthy set of guidelines for taking care of and preserving historic places. These guidelines set forth an approach to responsible care which is then up to the property owner to put into play although the guidelines are not actively enforced. Continue reading

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Preservation – take 2


FSB’s recent presentation at the 26th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference by Fred Schmidt, FAIA was a part of a series of presentations that focused on projects in various stages of preservation. FSB’s presentation featured a current project for the Oklahoma City University School of Law which is the third use type of what was originally Oklahoma High School but later known as Central High School. The prior lives of the building were as a high school and then an office building. Continue reading

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Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, Reconstruction

2014 Historic Preservation-FSB Presentation-Cover

FSB’s Oklahoma City University School of Law project was featured in the recent 26th Annual Statewide Preservation Conference. The conference was held at the University of Oklahoma in the College of Architecture and drew its largest attendance with over 300 participants. The law school presentation was a part of a Track titled Back to Basics where a variety of projects that have undergone or are undergoing some sort of rehabilitation were shared. The OCU School of Law project is going through a combination of preservation and rehabilitation. Continue reading

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What Lies Ahead


There are several things on the table for the OCU School of Law project and several things brewing for the Blog. A number of things seem to want to command center stage for being the most important and at the top of the list, not surprisingly, is money. Things brewing are more in line with things like meeting new Blog guests, exploring local beta and uncovering more of the historic legacy of the building.

Money Talks

The financial viability of the project was a part of the big “go-no go” analysis of the existing building.

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Design Unwrapped

Exterior Glazing

The design gears were turning with a rapid elaboration of the building components. The basic organization and flow of the space program within the structure were reasonably established. More definition was needed for some of the more technical spaces that included moot courtrooms and teaching environments. Further confirmation and fine tuning of adjacencies was also in order. The design team was happily on their way and immersed in drilling down to new levels of detail within individual spaces.

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Filed under Background, Design, Historic Preservation, Materials