The skyline game: City aims for the stars

The capital of the state of Oklahoma launches the challenge to take away the record of the tallest skyscraper in America from New York.

Oklahoma City, the capital of the homonymous state and simply known as OKC, is literally in the center of the United States. About 1,400 miles separate it from New York City on one side and, on the other, from Los Angeles. It is a metropolitan center of one and a half million people. In terms of area, Oklahoma is the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the nation.

From here, an unusual challenge to the city with the tallest skyscraper began when the project for the construction of the Legends Tower was announced at the beginning of the year, a building standing at 1,907 feet (581 meters) tall. A symbolic number because the year Oklahoma was baptized as the 46th American state was precisely 1907.

With this height, the Legends Tower will surpass the New York skyscraper  One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, which is 1,776 feet (541 meters) tall. For the record, 1776 is the year of the Declaration of Independence.

The city in search of a new skyline

The Legends Tower will consist of 134 floors with 1,500 residences. The OKC City Council has allocated $200 million in funding for the project, on the condition that the apartments are actually built since the project still needs to pass the planning department’s review. The new tower, in renderings produced by the architecture firm that designed it, resembles a narrow beam of laser light that disappears into the sky. An observatory restaurant is planned at the top of the tower.

According to the builder’s plans, the Legends Tower should not only top the list of tallest buildings in the United States but also rank sixth among the world’s supertall skyscrapers. The project also involves the creation of a ground-level area consisting of hotels – two Hyatt complexes – shops, and restaurants.

Also at the foot of the Legends Tower will rise a new stadium for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the local basketball team and one of the thirty franchises of the NBA. Estimated cost for the new arena is around $900 million.

Goal: surpassing 1,000 feet

The new Legends Tower project confirms and revives the competition among American cities, which in the field of construction seem to have as their mega goal the surpassing of the 1,000-foot height mark (304 meters). Chicago, which inaugurated the season of American skyscrapers with nine office floors built for the Home Life Insurance in 1885, now boasts six skyscrapers over 1,000 feet (305 meters). But it still lags far behind New York, which has 16 very tall buildings. Other cities, especially in Texas, have joined the list; while Oklahoma did not seem until now touched by this kind of race to walk down the street with one’s nose up.