Route 66 is an iconic highway and a nostalgic part of America's car obsessed past, but after Interstate 40 took over, many of the towns dotting the roadway died. In recent years, an interest in all things vintage is helping buildings and businesses along the original route come back to life. In Tulsa, Oklahoma for example, the architecture firm ElevenTH bought up an old PEMCO gas station and converted it into their new offices. Retaining the original edifice, adding a green lawn and vintage and recycled decor is helping to reinvigorate the streetscape and placing the firm right in the middle of the action.
ElevenTH knew they didn’t want to be holed up in some stale office on the 13th floor of a high rise in downtown. They wanted to be in the midst of the city, “the homeless, the prostitutes, the reality of society, all things this building was witness to,” as Shane Hood, principal at ElevenTH told us. So they searched for a place they could make their own and jumped on the chance to repuporse a 1950’s PEMCO gas station on route 66 into their new offices. The former gas station had fallen into quite a state of disrepair – boarded up, leaking and “had been on the unfortunate end of many unwise and insensitive remodels”.
ElevenTH cleaned the building up, painted it a clean, bright monolithic white and restored the original front glass windows. In a nod to its original state, they paired down the interior to the original block material and added reclaimed light fixtures and salvaged cedar planks. The office is small to say the least, and at 245 sq ft there isn’t much extra room, so they had to be smart about their interior organization. They split the office into three areas: main workspace, administrative workroom and reference closet.
Tulsa is the birthplace of Route 66, so the location has also become one of inspiration, and one that is also very accessible for clients. In its first incarnation as a gas station, the building was very accessible and encourage people to come inside. When it was renovated into an architecture office, the firm wanted to retain a similar feeling. To facilitate that further, they installed a green lawn underneath the shade canopy in front, which provides a greater connection with the sidewalk and people passing by.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Why construct a new building from materials that have to be sourced, manufactured and then transported to the build site (requiring a significant amount of energy and causing the emission of greenhouse gases), when you could just revamp an existing building? By recycling an old gas station, ElevenTH was able to save materials and energy, and we think the resulting office is way cooler than a new one would be.