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Price Tower

Coordinates: 36°44′52.21″N 95°58′34.23″W / 36.7478361°N 95.9761750°W / 36.7478361; -95.9761750
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Price Tower
Price Tower, Bartlesville Oklahoma
General information
Location510 S. Dewey Avenue
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, U.S.
Construction started1952
Antenna spire221 ft (67 m)
Technical details
Floor count19
Floor area42,000 square feet (3,900 m2)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Frank Lloyd Wright
Main contractorHaskell Culwell
Price Tower
Frank Lloyd Wright, Price Tower
Price Tower is located in Oklahoma
Price Tower
Price Tower is located in the United States
Price Tower
LocationBartlesville, Oklahoma
Coordinates36°44′52.21″N 95°58′34.23″W / 36.7478361°N 95.9761750°W / 36.7478361; -95.9761750
ArchitectFrank Lloyd Wright
NRHP reference No.74001670[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 13, 1974
Designated NHLMarch 29, 2007[2]

The Price Tower is a nineteen-story, 221-foot-high tower at 510 South Dewey Avenue in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It was built in 1956 to a design by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only realized skyscraper by Wright, and is one of only two vertically oriented Wright structures extant; the other is the S.C. Johnson Wax Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin.

The Price Tower was commissioned by Harold C. Price of the H. C. Price Company, a local oil pipeline and chemical firm. It opened to the public in February 1956.


The Price Tower was commissioned by Harold Price, for use as a corporate headquarters for his Bartlesville company. His wife, Lou Patteson Price, and his two sons, Harold Jr. and Joe, comprised the building committee. The Prices were directed to Frank Lloyd Wright by architect Bruce Goff, who was then Dean of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, where the Price sons had studied. Wright also designed an Arizona home for the senior Prices.

Wright nicknamed the Price Tower, which was built on the Oklahoma prairie, "the tree that escaped the crowded forest," referring not only to the building's construction, but also to the origins of its design. The Price Tower is supported by a central "trunk" of four elevator shafts which are anchored in place by a deep central foundation, as a tree is by its taproot. The nineteen floors of the building are cantilevered from this central core, like the branches of a tree. The outer walls hang from the floors and are clad in patinated copper "leaves." The building is asymmetrical, and like a tree, "looks different from every angle."[3]

Wright had championed these design ideas, which other architects had put to use before the construction of the Price Tower, in the late 1920s in his design for an apartment complex of four cantilevered towers near St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in downtown New York City.[4] Following the effects of the Great Depression, the project was shelved and adapted by Wright for the Price Company in 1952. Wright, therefore, plucked his "tree" out of the "crowded forest" of Manhattan skyscrapers and placed it on the Oklahoma prairie where it continues to stand uncrowded by neighboring tall buildings.

The floorplan of the Price Tower centers upon an inlaid cast bronze plaque, bearing the logo of the Price Company and marking the origin of a parallelogram grid upon which all exterior walls, interior partitions and doors, and built-in furniture are placed. The resulting design is a quadrant plan—one quadrant dedicated for double-height apartments, and three for offices. The materials for the Price Tower are equally innovative for a mid-twentieth-century skyscraper: cast concrete walls, pigmented concrete floors, aluminum-trimmed windows and doors, and patinated embossed and distressed copper panels. The general geometric element is the equilateral triangle, and all lighting fixtures and ventilation grilles are based upon that form while the angled walls and built-in furniture are based on fractions or multiples of the triangular module. The lobby contains two inscriptions by Walt Whitman. One is from the concluding stanza of Salut au Monde, and the other from Song of the Broad-Axe.[5]

The St. Mark's project was for apartment houses only; however, the Price Tower was designed as a multi-use building with the H. C. Price Company as the primary occupant, in addition to business offices, shops, and apartments. Seven double-height apartments were income-raising ventures.[4] Tenants included lawyers, accountants, physicians, dentists, and insurance agents. A women's high-end dress shop, beauty salon, and the regional offices of the Public Service Company of Oklahoma occupied a two-story wing of the tower, with a drive-through passageway separating the high and low structures. The Price Company occupied the upper floors, and included a commissary on the sixteenth floor as well as a penthouse office suite for Harold Price Sr., and later his son Harold Jr.

Current status[edit]

The H.C. Price Company sold Price Tower to Phillips Petroleum in 1981 following a move to Dallas, where their company is presently located. Phillips Petroleum's lawyers deemed the exterior exit staircase a safety risk, and only used the building for storage.[6] They retained ownership until 2000 when the building was donated to Price Tower Arts Center, and it has returned to its multi-use origins. Price Tower Arts Center, a museum of art, architecture, and design; Inn at Price Tower;[7] a restaurant; and the Wright Place museum store are the current major tenants with smaller firms leasing space.

The Inn at Price Tower is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[8] It is on the 2021 list of Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Art Collections.[9]

In 2002 Pritzker Prize winning architect, Zaha Hadid, was commissioned to design a museum expansion for Price Tower Arts Center—a project that was included in the 2006 retrospective exhibition of Hadid's work at the Guggenheim Museum, New York City.

On March 29, 2007, the Price Tower was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, then one of only twenty-two such properties in the state of Oklahoma.[10] In 2008, the U.S. National Park Service submitted the Price Tower, along with nine other Frank Lloyd Wright properties, to a tentative list for World Heritage Status. The 10 sites have been submitted as one site. The January 22, 2008, press release from the National Park Service website announcing the nominations states that "The preparation of a Tentative List is a necessary first step in the process of nominating a site to the World Heritage List."[11] However, after a 2016 nomination to the World Heritage List was rejected by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, a revised 2018 proposal removed the Price Tower from consideration.[12] The revised nomination of eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings was accepted in July 2019 as The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Price Tower Arts Center[edit]

The Price Tower Arts Center is the art complex at Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The center was founded in 1985 as a civic art museum, and reorganized in 1998 to focus on art, architecture and design.[13] Features includes a museum with changing exhibits. Collections include modern art, works on paper, furniture, textiles and design. The center owns some significant pieces by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Visitors can also tour the fully restored 1956 Price Company Executive Office and Corporate Apartment.


A tribute to the Price Tower called The Classen, designed by the architectural firm Bozalis & Roloff and constructed in 1967, can be found in Oklahoma City's Asian District, along Classen Boulevard, next door to the Buckminster Fuller-inspired Gold Dome, also designed by Bozalis & Roloff.


Harold Jr. also commissioned a Wright building.[14] Wright constructed Hillside, otherwise known as the "Harold Price Jr. House", in Bartlesville in the 1953-1954 timeframe.[14][15] This Usonian home has two stories and an L-shaped hipped roof.[14][15] It is one of only three Wright buildings in Oklahoma, along with the Price Tower and Westhope in Tulsa.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "Price Tower". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Terdiman, David (July 20, 2014). "Price Tower: Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper". CNET. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Frank Lloyd Wright. St. Mark's Tower project, New York, NY (Aerial perspective). 1927–1931 | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. New York City. 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  5. ^ "Price Tower". Exploring Art. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2010.
  6. ^ Dupré, Judith (1996). Skyscrapers. Black Dog & Leventhal. p. 49. ISBN 1-884822-45-2.
  7. ^ "Hotel". Price Tower Arts Center.
  8. ^ "Inn at Price Tower, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "The 2021 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Art Collections Announced". www.historichotels.org. Washington, D.C.: Historic Hotels of America. May 19, 2021. Retrieved May 11, 2023.
  10. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". National Park Service. April 13, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  11. ^ "DOI Secretary Kempthorne Selects New US World Heritage Tentative List". nps.gov. January 22, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2014.
  12. ^ "Eight Buildings Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List". Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. December 20, 2018.
  13. ^ "Visitor Information". Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2008. Price Tower Arts Center: Visitor Info
  14. ^ a b c "Harold Price Jr. Residence (Hillside)". WikiArquitectura. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Harold Price, Jr. House (1954)". FrankLloydWrightSites. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  16. ^ "Westhope, the iconic Tulsa home built by Frank Lloyd Wright, now up for sale". Grace Wood, Tulsa World, April 19, 2023. Retrieved April 20, 2023.



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  • Apostolo, Roberto. "La Price Tower di Frank Lloyd Wright" Frames, Portes, and Finestre (Aug.-Sep. 1992): 54–61.
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  • DeLong, David G. "A Tower Expressive of Unique Interiors" AIA Journal 71 (Jul. 1982): 78–83.
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  • Hosokawa, Bill. "Price's Tower of Independence." The Denver Post (Mar. 1956).
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  • Nash, Eric P. "Travel Advisory: Rooms with a View, By Frank Lloyd Wright." New York Times (16 Mar. 2003).
  • "Prairie Skyscraper." Time 61 (25 May 1953): 43.
  • "Price Tower Completion Story." The Tie-In Quarterly 13 (Winter 1956): 2–5.
  • "The Price Tower is Wright's." Southern Living (Dec. 1990).
  • "Price Tower Will Be Built in Bartlesville." Construction News Monthly (10 Jun. 1953): 117–118.
  • Schmertz, Mildred F. "Inn at Price Tower: An Oklahoma Hotel Finds a Home in Frank Lloyd Wright's 1950s High-Rise." Architectural Digest (June 2003): 72, 74, 76-77.
  • "Tower to Provide Office, Living Space." Engineering News-Record (4 Jun. 1953): 23.
  • "Wright Completes Skyscraper." Progressive Architecture 37 (Feb. 1956): 87–90.


  • Alofsin, Anthony, ed. Prairie Skyscraper: Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower. New York: Rizzoli, 2005.
  • Futagawa, Yukio, and Martin Pawley, eds. Frank Lloyd Wright Public Buildings. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.
  • Hoffmann, Donald. Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, and the Skyscraper. New York: Dover, 1998.
  • Wright, Frank Lloyd. The Story of the Tower: The Tree That Escaped the Crowded Forest. New York: Horizon Press, 1956.

External links[edit]