Conventional thought 

A MAPS 3 subcommittee selects the designer for the planned convention center and sticks with the facility’s planned location.


The MAPS 3 Convention Center Subcommittee voted last week to recommend that the companies responsible for selecting the site of the $252 million building also be hired to design it.

The recommendation to hire Populous and GSB to conduct a conceptual study for the convention center was passed unanimously by the subcommittee Sept. 25. The MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board approved the recommendation two days later and passed it along to City Council, which was scheduled to take action at yesterday’s meeting.

Populous and GSB were the firms responsible for evaluating the prospective sites for the future convention center. Out of those sites, a former auto dealership just south of Myriad Botanical Gardens and west of the Chesapeake Energy Arena was selected as the best spot, and the location was approved by the City Council.

However, that site has come under fire by some for potentially creating a barrier between the Myriad Gardens park and the future MAPS 3 downtown park just south of that location.

In addition, questions have been raised as to whether there is enough money to build a convention center with the exhibit space that was originally envisioned.

During the subcommittee meeting, former Oklahoma City mayor and current subcommittee member Kirk Humphreys suggested that Populous go back and re-evaluate both the current site and the site that was selected as the second-best option, a location in Bricktown.

Humphreys said he was concerned that it might not be possible to meet all the goals of the convention center at the selected location because of engineering challenges and costs.

“It’s been some time since we made the selection and I’m having questions in my mind whether we will have enough dollars to build the square feet Mike wants … and put it underground like was presented to us,” he said, referring to Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier. “All I’m suggesting is that before the train leaves the station, we dig a
little deeper and make sure we can get what we thought we voted for on
that site.”

I’m suggesting that before the train leaves the station, we dig a little deeper.

—Kirk Humphreys

But his was the lone voice advocating the re-evaluation. Other board members pointed out that the subcommittee and Populous had gone over the criteria and weighting of each site twice, both times coming to the same conclusion.

Humphreys asked that the Populous/GSB contract negotiation authorization be revised to include a provision on the re-evaluation of the current site and the second site.

Subcommittee member and Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols moved that the language be unchanged.

“We went through a laborious process and a lengthy process and a thorough process with Populous to look at all the sites, and a secondary site upon which you could build a somewhat better building is not very inspiring,” Nichols said.

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