Crossland Construction – A Gathering Place For Tulsa

Crosslands picA Gathering Place for Tulsa will provide a place for Tulsans and visitors to play, relax and gather together along the Arkansas River.

By Bianca Herron

Developed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and numerous corporate and community philanthropists, A Gathering Place for Tulsa will convert nearly 100 acres along the Arkansas River into a riverfront park just south of downtown Tulsa, Okla.

“About eight years ago the George Kaiser Family Foundation started assembling the land for the project,” says Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee for A Gathering Place for Tulsa. “Five years ago we conducted a worldwide search for a landscape architecture firm to help us design the park and chose the world famous Michael Van Valkenburgh. He and his team are designing what we think will be one of the most important parks in the last 25 years.”

The estimated cost of the project is $400 million, and the goal for the park is to be a world-class green space for all Tulsans to enjoy, according to Stava. “We want to keep all Tulsans – both young and old - active, busy and engaged,” he explains. “This is the single largest gift to a municipality of green space in the history of the United States. So it’s a pretty big and very monumental gift to the community.”

Breaking Ground

The construction of the 66.5-acre first phase – which started in September and is scheduled to be completed by late 2017 – will run from 27th to 31st streets on the east side of Riverside Drive, a major road that runs through the city, and from 27th Street to 34th Street on the west side.

The areas will be connected by two land bridges, which also tie into the 40,000-square-foot underground maintenance facility, according to Eric Lopp, senior project manager at Crossland Construction, which is handling the steel and concrete construction for the project. “The maintenance facility is underground because we did not want it to be an eyesore and take away from the park,” Lopp says. “With its connection to the bridges, they will provide areas where Tulsans can walk within the park out to the river’s edge.” crossland box

Park amenities, which also are being built in the first phase of the project, include an adventure playground, boathouse, pond, lodge and two lawns that jut out into the river.

“The boathouse will be three stories and will have a large pavilion for a full-service restaurant on the top floor with an outdoor patio,” Lopp says. “It will also have an art display for local artists to display their art, an outdoor patio, and a space to rent equipment at the basement level where people will be able to rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboats to go around the pond.”

The park itself will also have water features such as Mist Mountain, which will be comprised of a 1,200-square-foot stone structure. “It will have pathways, leaping fish, water fountains and jumping jets,” explains Lopp.

The lodge will house ice cream, candy and coffee shops, as well as a grab-and-go restaurant with a large terrace for eating. In addition, the park will have a large performance space to host movies or concerts, as well as a BMX punk track, according to Stava. “It will have intermediate and advanced areas in the track for kids. A Gathering Place will also have five sport courts where people can reserve them and play tennis, soccer, volleyball and basketball,” he says.

Overall, Stava notes the foundation is working very hard to provide programming and outdoor opportunities for all Tulsans. “There could be yoga programs for young adults to seniors, bridge club competitions, and various outdoor activities like tug-o-war and relay races,” he says excitedly. “We want the park to ultimately promote an active outdoor lifestyle, as well as a community that all Tulsans can come and be together in.”

Phase two of the project will consist of the construction of a seven-acre children’s museum on the far south side of the park. “We are in the design phase for the building currently,” Lopp says. “This will take six to eight months and construction will possibly start in early 2018.”

Natural Habitat

Crossland Construction is manufacturing various sizes of sandstone onsite. The material will be featured throughout the park, in applications ranging from flagstone paving to the buildings and bridges.

“There are several thousand tons of this stone being made, so it’s being included in all of the buildings and the numerous site walls throughout the park,” Lopp says. “It will have exposed concrete, which means people will see gravel and rock within the concrete. Along with that we also have a natural stone curve or cobble along the edge of all the pathways. In addition, the lodge will also have a three-story, stone-clad fireplace within it.”

Stava says the project team is working hard to not only include natural elements in the park, but to preserve its natural elements as well, including a cottonwood tree, which is the oldest on the site. “We named it the Reading Tree,” Stava explains. “We will have partnerships with local nonprofits and our city library to oversee that program. Kids will be able to listen to or read stories, and borrow books. There will be various programs to promote reading, especially to the youngest children of reading age to help improve their reading scores in our community.”

Team Effort

The architects participating in the project, including Michael Van Valkenburgh and his team, bring unique design perspectives to the table, Lopp says. “They are from New York, so they have offered different types of methods they have seen to the project that we have never seen here in Oklahoma,” he explains.

“Overall, it’s a team effort because all parties are involved,” Lopp concludes. “This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime-type project to build something that will be here forever. Thousands of people will visit each year, so to say you were a part of this will be something special.”

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