Oral Roberts University, ORU Architecture

8 Nov

oru1Tulsa is home to the futuristic college campus, Oral Roberts University, a playground for the mid century modern lover. Virtually every building on the premises offers unique, modern design with some great architectural style and detail. One thing I have been unable to find is who designed this facility. Does anyone know?

The campus was built in 1963 with a noted futuristic look and architecture. By 2007 its appearance was described as both “a perfect representation of the popular modernistic architecture of the time… the set of the Jetsons” and “dated, like Disney’s Tomorrowland.” Maintenance of the many unique but aging buildings, structures and architectural details on campus has been cited as a growing problem for the university.

This small Christian college, approx 5000 students, is named for its founder, televangelist Oral Roberts claiming God had told him, “Build Me a University. Build it on My Authority, and on the Holy Spirit.” While extremely radical in design the ideas and rules of the school are much more conservative.

All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, gambling and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior. In early 2004 the student dress code was much relaxed for the first time in forty years and described as business casual. For most of the school’s history men were required to wear button-down shirts and ties while women were required to wear skirts (an exception for winter months was added in 2000). In 2006 campus-wide dress code rules were eased even further, allowing students to wear jeans to class and dress even more casually in non-academic settings. Restrictions on men concerning hair length, facial hair and earrings remain.


see more pics on ModernEarth or in the photo gallery

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12 Responses to “Oral Roberts University, ORU Architecture”

  1. shane hood 20. Dec, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    Frank Wallace designed the buildings at ORU

    i have an album cover that has the architect’s original model on the front, i should scan it in and post it

  2. cole 20. Dec, 2007 at 6:55 pm #

    That’s great Shane! Thanks for sharing. I’d enjoy seeing a photo of the model when you get a chance.

  3. Laura Clark 07. Jan, 2008 at 5:09 am #

    Nice post, thanks for the info, regards laura

  4. Donetsk 13. Jan, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Hi from Donetsk, Ukraine. I am leaving comment here just to say thank you for this site, I am looking forward to reading more posts, hope it goes well, all the best, Jay.

  5. Rex Ball,FAIA, AICP 15. Jan, 2008 at 4:54 am #

    Shane is only partly right about Frank Wallace being the ORU designer. The origonal firm and master planner was Stanfield and Imel. Blane Imel, AIA was the actual Designer. He gave me a photo of his origonal concept. They were replaced by Wallace . Wallace and his ‘in house’ Designer [whose name escapes me at the moment] were strongly influenced by Bruce Goff the latter having been trained by Goff at OU. Many of the forms found at ORU appear to be somewhat derivitive of Goff’s own work after WW II. Frank Wallace still lives in Tulsa and someone should interview him to get his story of the ORU evolution behind the scenes. His own house went on the market a couple of years ago.

  6. Rex Ball,FAIA, AICP 15. Jan, 2008 at 4:59 am #

    As a second thought Robert Powers, the early Guru of the Tulsa Historical Society, believed that it was a straoght line from Tulsa’s earliest Art Deco architecture to ORU today.

  7. cole 15. Jan, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks for the info, Rex. I’ll have to track down Mr. Wallace for the scoop.

  8. shane hood 16. Jan, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    that might explain why the early images of the schematic model i have show a couple of different versions.

    Thanks for the info Rex, i am still learning about who did what and appreciate your help

  9. Todd 08. Feb, 2008 at 1:41 pm #

    Frank Wallace is my uncle…glad to see that people are talking about his work. You can see some of the ORU buildings from his back deck in Tulsa.

  10. JRD 17. Feb, 2008 at 7:48 pm #

    Coincidentally I just started a post on http://www.pushpullbar.com discussing the ORU campus architecture. Check it out…


  11. Dee Snider 15. Jul, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    I was told that my house was designed by the ORU architect.
    Does any one know of other Tulsa homes that Wallace designed?

  12. Zakhyy 26. Nov, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Yes, the first baby born from Oral sex should be sent to renept in a cell with a guy named Killer’ for a few years, but he might enjoy that too much. (How close is he to Ted Haggard?) At the least, the court should strip him of his ill-gotten gains the man’s never had an honest job in his life, so that would leave him a pauper. Of course, if that happened, the Republican Jesus would never help him he only likes rich people.

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