BP’s Automobile Alley Renovation
Finding fresh energy in a classic space
Photos by Carli Wentworth
Tucked away between women’s apparel shop The Factory and the trendy Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar is the new Oklahoma City office for one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. Last fall, BP opened a satellite office in the Pontiac Building at NW 11th and Broadway.
“One of my first assignments after joining BP was to help establish a new office in Oklahoma City,” says Laura Leffler, chief of staff for BP’s subsidiary, Lower 48 Onshore.
“When we walked through the Pontiac Building we knew instantly we had found what we were looking for,” she continues. “The character of the building shows the richness and foundational elements of an industrial past, and our plan was to blend that past with the elements of what we wanted our future to be: modern, highly efficient and innovative.”
The Pontiac Building, a two-story brick Art Deco structure, was built in 1928, and home to one of Oklahoma City’s earliest car dealerships. While it had been empty for a number of years, Leffler said she saw the potential in developing the area into a usable office space.
“The building was in terrific shape considering its age,” she says. “The second story was an open room and was very clean, and it had paint on the floor from years of body repair work. This was a selling point for us because we were searching for authenticity. We were also impressed with the massive, original windows surrounding all sides of the building. The effort to retain the historical aspects was easy to see.”
Leffler engaged Fitzsimmons Architects to help design the interior, and worked with Flintco on the construction process. With more than 14,000 square feet of office space, the nearly 50 BP employees have plenty of room to work. The first level has an open floor plan, with various seating areas, nooks and ample overhead lighting. An on-site workout facility ensures each employee has access to healthy exercise, and a break room has an overhead garage door that can be opened on warm spring days.
“That is my favorite feature,” Leffler explains. “We can open the overhead door to let fresh air inside, and we have a food truck stop by and deliver lunch. Everyone eats together on the ground floor, and the sense of ‘team’ couldn’t be stronger.”
As chief of staff, Leffler was responsible for overseeing the renovation. Throughout the building are fine appointments and deft attention to detail. A 1,000-pound onyx table accents the break room, and chic sliding glass doors with polished steel handles grace each office, as well as the board and meeting rooms. One of the focal points is a reclaimed wooden stairway installed over the original car ramp leading to the second floor.
And while the past is ever-present, 21st-century technology flows seamlessly with the history of the building. Each office and meeting room is equipped with smart boards, wireless monitors and hidden screens that allow staff to communicate with personnel at the headquarters in Houston and around the globe.
“The energy in the office is off the charts,” Leffler says. “There is a sense that we can accomplish anything, even in this incredibly challenging environment. We are very excited to be a part of this community, with such a vibrant location and in such a special building.”