An alternate design for the new chamber building, obtained by Oklahoma Gazette, would have redirected E.K. Gaylord into a straightaway again, terminating at Fourth Street, and would have reclaimed a third of the land for a large park.
That design notes that the current path of E.K. Gaylord " a large, six-lane curve " is a crossing that is "difficult to navigate by foot or car," saying that the area is "an urban setting in much need of attention."
"The greatest assets of the site remain the Broadway address and the adjacent, glorious Oklahoman Building, designed by Layton and Smith," the alternative proposal states. "A more clearly defined park can capture the power of the chamber, the Oklahoman Building and all the other buildings which enfront this new park, including the AT&T Building."
However, Couch said city staff was directed to reject the proposal.
"There was a proposal made by Kirk Humphreys that we close Gaylord street and reclaim that land like a great site down there," Couch said. "Me being a traffic engineer, I double-clutched on that. You're shutting down Gaylord street? How do we get downtown? Harvey doesn't go through. Geez! Robinson is now down to nothing. And you are shutting down Gaylord Street?"
Couch said the city commissioned a traffic study regarding the proposed re-straightening.
"They had a traffic study done to see whether or not that made sense to do that. Intuitively, it did not to me, or to my staff," he said.
The current "football" design, to be reviewed by the now-truncated Downtown Design Review Committee, does not re-direct E.K. Gaylord.
Although the design touts pedestrian-friendly features, it will incorporate more pavement, according to the proposal submitted to the committee. The site will have "an approximately 1-acre open space including colored concrete paving, benches, water feature, above-standard landscaping," the proposal states.
The "colored concrete paving" will actually form a curved driveway in front of the proposed building, according to diagrams. This would increase the area a pedestrian must cross at E.K. Gaylord.
"The project is intended to be an iconic design, yet fitting into the context including the proposed open space," the proposal states.
Chamber of Commerce President Roy Williams said the current design is meant to enhance the green space of downtown as much as possible. He said that is why the chamber seeks to override the guidelines requiring buildings to be built directly to the street.
"We think this is a different site than everything downtown where there is a normal grid," Williams said. "We just think, "