Gold standard

“It’s been a running joke in my family,” he says. “I’ve always loved the dome, but 10 years ago, it was just out of reach.”

In
2013, things changed; Lorson purchased the Gold Dome from David Box and
quite possibly saved it from the wrecking ball. He wasted no time
working on a plan to renovate the property to house his company, TEEMCO.
It was a victory long in the making.

“Here we are now, and I actually have the prize,” he says.

TEEMCO,
an environmental engineering firm, has 65 employees that are settling
into their new work space in the historic 1958 building along Route 66
at NW 23rd Street and Classen Boulevard. By 2015, Lorson hopes to have
100 people working in the 27,000-square-foot building. At its previous
corporate headquarters in Edmond, people were working in every nook and
cranny available.

“Our growth was restrained because we didn’t have a place to put anyone,” he says.

Over
the next few years, renovations will be ongoing as the dome is cleaned
and restored and the interior is outfitted with things like two large
aquariums and a large salt crystal from Pakistan in the lobby.

Lorson
says it made sense for his engineers to serve as general contractors
for the renovations, but for the architecture, he hired an old friend of
the dome. Architect Mike Kertok is overseeing its renovation. Kertok
did the designs for a renovation to the dome in 2005 to office and
retail space when it was converted from a bank. TEEMCO officials saw
Kertok’s name on the previous drawings and gave him a call.

“I enjoyed working on it the first time,” Kertok says. “It’s an interesting building.”

He
says a drop-down ceiling had been added that obscured the interior
dome. Kertok removed the ceiling in 2005 and, using historic photographs
for reference, re-created suspended light clouds that floated above the
lobby and illuminated the interior dome. An elevator was added on the
east end to access the lower level and the two upper floors, and the
building was brought up to code.

Coming
back about eight years later, Kertok found some problems like a flooded
basement, but otherwise, the building was not a disaster.

“It’s
in pretty good shape,” he says. For passersby, the most obvious change
is the restored gold luster of the anodized aluminum dome. Lorson says
it was a daunting task to abide by historic standards, due to the
building’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (as
Citizen’s State Bank), while at the same time replacing the gold without
ruining or permanently scarring the finish. He says the only way to
re-anodize it would be to disassemble it, a process that would ruin the
dome. Instead, leaks were patched, seams were sealed and an epoxy sealer
primer was applied to prepare it for a gold finish.

“We had to seek other
solutions and find a way to get gold back on the dome without destroying
it,” he says. “We’ve tried to get it as close to the original color as
possible.”

But for
Lorson, the dome is much more than merely an office space. In the lobby,
the dome above represents the universe, clouds double for the sky, the
terrazzo floor represents the earth and the aquariums will bring water
in to complete the picture. The large salt crystal emits negative ions,
which Lorson says creates a balance such as one finds in a forest.

“We
are making a statement, through the design and through the environment
we’re creating, that man can have a positive impact on his environment,”
he says.

TEEMCO
entered into a contract with Box to develop the east side of the
property, currently used as surface parking. Lorson says he expects to
spend several million dollars on interior and exterior renovations in
the coming years.

“The
first step is to get the dome done and get in there,” he says. “Over
the next few years, we will identify the right kind of development for
the east half of the property.”

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