Price Tower

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- Frank Lloyd Wright designed hundreds of buildings over his long career, and he's arguably America's best architect. Yet there's only one Frank Lloyd Wright skyscraper: the 19-story Price Tower in this small town in northeast Oklahoma.

The design is based on one Wright created for a building that was supposed to be erected in New York City in the 1930s. But economic hard times made it impossible for that building to become reality.

When Hal Price, the owner of a global oil pipeline company came calling, Wright knew just the design he wanted for Price's new office building in Bartlesville.

As part of CNET Road Trip 2014, I visited Price Tower to see how Wright's work translates into a tall office building.

Please click here for my full story on Price Tower.

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Price Tower from the air

A look at Price Tower from the west, as photographed by a DJI Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter. The 19-story building is visible from nearly everywhere in Bartlesville.

Today, the building is managed by the Price Tower Arts Center, a nonprofit. However, there are also a hotel, a bar, and some private offices still in use in the building.

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Louvers with owl

Though the Price Tower has louvers on all sides, these are the only ones that are meant to be moved intentionally. Found on the veranda outside what was originally the Price Company's corporate apartment, they are topped with a fake owl that scares off birds.

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Corporate apartment

For Wright, a skyscraper meant a building that was used in many different ways. So the Price Tower contained apartments, offices, and retail space. This is the Price Company's corporate apartment, which was used by the company's VIP guests, or its employees when they were in Bartlesville. It has been maintained to look much like it did when the Price Company was still using the building.

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FLW mural

Another look at the corporate apartment, including an abstract mural Wright had painted on the wall of the apartment.

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Price Tower and Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz E250 Bluetec that CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman is road-testing on Road Trip 2014, seen with Price Tower in the background.

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Blue Moon

In the bottom right corner of the mural in the corporate apartment, Wright left this inscription to Hal Price: "The Blue Moon - To Hal. Frank Lloyd Wright." This was a reference to Wright's feeling that his collaboration with Price was so good as to be as rare as a blue moon.

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More corporate apartment

Another look at the corporate apartment.

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Looking at mural

The corporate apartment, including the Frank Lloyd Wright mural and exact replicas of original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed drapes.

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Price Tower from the east

An aerial view of Price Tower from the east, shot using a DJI Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter.

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Built-in table

Wright enjoyed putting built-in furniture in his buildings because it gave him more control over how people would use them. An example is this built-in table in the Price Tower corporate apartment.

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Price Tower from below

A look at Price Tower from ground level on the south side of the building.

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Kitchen

The kitchen in the corporate apartment was suitably small, but it did the job, and included all the important appliances. Underneath the stove are both the oven and the refrigerator.

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Veranda

A patio outside the Copper Bar. Enjoy a drink or some food with terrific views of the Bartlesville area.

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PT's veranda

This aerial view of Price Tower, also shot with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision +, shows the building from the west, and makes it easy to see the huge veranda outside what was Hal Price's private office.

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Spire

A look at Price Tower's spire, jutting up from the core of the building.

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Drapes and chairs

A final look at the corporate apartment, showing the drapes, and several chairs Wright designed.

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Water damage

Wright's buildings are famous for having leaks, and Price Tower is no exception. This built-in shelf in the corporate apartment was damaged by leaked water.

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North aerial view

A view of the Price Tower, as seen from the north side of the building, shot by a DJI Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter.

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Boardroom

When the Price Company was still using the Price Tower, its board consisted of only four members, so its boardroom was this foyer space just outside the elevators on the 18th floor.

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Globe

Almost everywhere you look in and around Price Tower are sharp angles, especially triangles. There are few, if any, circles.

When Price and Wright were still in the design stage, Price insisted on a large map of the world for his wall, but Wright hated the idea. Still, as the owner of a global pipeline company, Price needed to have a map of the world in his office so he could consult with clients about the location of their projects. The compromise was this globe. Wright had it placed behind the door.

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Price's desk

In Price's office, Wright designed a built-in desk that could be used from either side. It has drawers on both sides, a chair on one side, and this bench on the other.

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Price's office

A look at Price's private office, on the 19th floor of the building.

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Fireplace

A signature of Wright's buildings, even his skyscraper, is the fireplace. This one is located in Price's private office.

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Wright chairs

Wright designed these chairs, which were used throughout the Price Company. They were said to be very uncomfortable.

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Desk chair

This is the desk chair used by Hal Price in his private office. Wright also designed this chair.

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Hanging desk lamp

Wright designed this hanging desk lamp, which utilizes the triangle shape, because he hated the idea of a lamp being placed on the desk.

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Triangles in ceiling

Look at just about any ceiling in Price Tower and you'll find more triangles.

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Secretary's desk

This is Hal Price's secretary's desk, which is located just outside Price's private office on the 19th floor.

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Rug

Wright designed this large carpet, which was originally installed in a separate house Wright designed for the Price family.

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HCP Logo

Wright designed a corporate logo for the Price Company, and every floor of the building has one embedded there. The building is oriented in the same direction as the logo.

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Copper bar

Though the Copper Bar, located inside the Price Tower, was not designed by Wright, the space was set up by someone trying hard to be faithful to his aesthetic.

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Copper bar angles

A look at the sharp angles and multiple levels of the Copper Bar.

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Former dress shop

Today, this is the building's main foyer, but when Price Tower opened, this ground-floor space was a dress shop, helping to meet Wright's requirement that the building be mixed-use.

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Price Tower and Phillips 66

A view of the Price Tower from several blocks away in Bartlesville. In the foreground is a Phillips 66 gas station. Bartlesville is best known as the corporate headquarters of Phillips Petroleum, later Conoco Phillips. And the Phillips company purchased the Price Tower when Price himself decided he didn't need it any more.

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