Next Time You Visit Bartlesville II- Price Tower


Price Tower is the tallest actualized skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  (He designed one other vertical structure, the S.C. Johnson Wax Research Tower.)   You will find it in the seemingly unlikely town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  However, a little digging into the history of Bartlesville shows that Bartlesville was a town that developed because of the oil industry in Oklahoma.  It was home to wealthy oil barons  and their wealth is reflected in the several examples of architecture by well-known architects.  Price Tower was  commissioned  by H. C. Price, founder of H. C. Price Company, an oil and gas pipeline company.


The design of Price Tower is based on a tree, but is a geometric, stylized design.  Frank Lloyd Wright himself called it, "the tree that escaped the crowded forest."  It has a center core with the actual floors, triangular shapes, coming out from the center like branches of a tree.  The outer color is pale beige concrete and green copper.  It has the appearance of a very stylized pine tree (squint your eyes and use your imagination) and is quite an amazing sight rising up from the town.

Price Tower is a fascinating place to visit.  Viewing the unique exterior is exciting in itself, but there are also interesting tours of the building that take you through some floors of the building where you visit  the office of H. C. Price and an apartment with original built-in furniture and wall designs.  During the tour you learn about  the design and history of the building.  You also learn biographical information on  H. C. Price, and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Frank Lloyd Wright's use of built-ins and wall and ceiling design including embossed wall panels in the  interior give the building a cohesive design.  The beautiful two-floor apartment has a very stylized look with built-in furniture and bas-relief designs on the walls.

Price Tower - built-in chairs in interior hallway

Price Tower ceiling in interior hallway

You can see vintage photos of Price Tower including two photos of an original furnished apartment here.

Price Tower was conceived as a multipurpose building which would include corporate offices, retail space, and apartments.  In keeping  with the original purpose of the building, there is now a museum gallery  on the first floor.  When we visited Price Tower, the exhibit showing there was 3-logy Triennial 2008: Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things. The exhibit included work by international contemporary artists who used junk and found materials to create their art.  There were two  fascinating 3-dimensional mosaics that were large portraits.  When you walked up close to the portraits, the images faded and you saw old toys and pieces of junk attached to the canvas in an interesting design.  When you walked back and viewed the mosaics from a distance, you could see the portraits.  Another appealing work was a grouping of large jellyfish made from bubblewrap.  You can read more about the exhibit here.

Next time you are in the vacinity of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I recommend visiting Price Tower for an interesting exploration of a unique Frank Lloyd Wright building and a wonderful museum gallery.

To see more on what to visit in Bartlesville, please check out the previous post, "Next Time You Visit Bartlesville I- Woolaroc".