The Tree That Escaped From the Crowded Forest…

The Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma is the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper actually built. Frank Lloyd Wright called it “The Tree that Escaped from the Forest.” It was occupied in 1956.


The building is 221 feet tall with nineteen stories. It was conceived as a mult-use building with offices, apartments, and shops. These days it has an Art Center on the ground floor, a hotel, and a restaurant and bar.


The tree metaphor is reflected in its design. It has a very strong central core and the floors are cantilevered from that core. The exterior is not load bearing and consists of copper and glass panels. These are the “leaves” of the tree.


The building has lots of details like window shades and terraces.


The design of the building was recycled from an abandoned 1929 housing project in New York City that was abandoned because of the depression. When the Price Tower opened in the mid 50’s many considered its design to be outmoded. What was in fashion at the time was the International Style buildings such as the United Nations building in New York City.


For some reason as a fifth grader in Price, Utah, long before I even knew where Bartlesville, Oklahoma was I read about the Price Tower and was really interested by it. I think I was interested because the name of the building was the name of the town that I lived in.


Fast Forward a dozen or so years and I’m on a job interview trip with Phillips Petroleum Company. The lady from HR is driving me from the hotel to the office. I see the building and said “Is that the Price Tower.” She told me she didn’t know except that it was supposed to be famous. I about choked and said, “Yeah it’s famous, it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and it was his only skyscraper.” I couldn’t hide my dismay that she didn’t know about the building. People skills have never been my strong suit. She said, “How does somebody from New Mexico know that?” What I wanted to say was “How does somebody who works in the building’s shadow not know it?” I stuffed  those words down though.  I got a job offer though. I still don’t understand people who are not curious about the world around them.


I don’t know how useful the building is, but it is beautiful. The copper patina makes it look like a turquoise tower in some light.

Our World Tuesday

21 thoughts on “The Tree That Escaped From the Crowded Forest…

  1. Mrs. G

    There are many of us that live here that are so proud to have it on our hometown! Sorry you encountered someone who doesn’t understand its worth. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Mrs. G

    There are many of us that live here that are so proud to have it on our hometown! Sorry you encountered someone who doesn’t understand its worth. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Daryl

    that is one gorgeous building and like you I cant imagine working nearby (and living in the same city) and not knowing what it is/its history .. GAH

  4. Sylvia K

    What a beautiful building!! I love your captures! And, like some of the others I don’t understand how some people can live and work in a city for years and know so little about its history????? Hope your day is going well!

  5. Janie

    I had no idea you had the only Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper in Oklahoma. It is beautiful, and I really like the tree motif.
    Funny and sad that someone who lived in its shadow didn’t know what they were looking at.

  6. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti

    This is a beautiful building! I am partial to copper and I like the art deco designs. I never knew that FLW designed this skyscraper.

    I agree that more people should be interested in the history of where they live and work — I’ll never understand those who aren’t! 🙂

  7. GW Bill Miller

    Really great photos. You have a long standing love affair with this building. FLW designed all the furniture inside too. The lobby still has the original furniture but I have not been above that level. Maybe we can talk them into a tour.

  8. DrillerAA09

    I toured the building in 1970, when in was basically vacant. The primary problem with the structure is that it is 19 floors crammed in to vertical 221 ft. That leaves virtually no room for modern mechanical and electrical system upgrades. The elevators are tiny, carrying a maximum of three or four people per car. Like many Wright buildings, much of the original furniture was designed and built-in by Wright himself. That leaves little or no room for flexible arrangement of space as workstation needs change. Never the less, it is a beautiful building and was a brief experiment in high rise design. Some of the features, like the sunscreens, are re-emerging in contemporary architecture as “Green Design”.

  9. Sallie (FullTime-Life)

    It’s totally gorgeous — we visited FLW’s home in Wisconsin and heard this story……

    I have heard my husband say the exact words that you say in this post and I agree totally ..about not understanding how people can NOT be curious. We meet those kind of people often tho, sadly.

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