BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. Photo courtesy Gayle Babcock, Architectural Imageworks, LLC.



The anchor of Tulsa’s Vision 2025, the city’s comprehensive downtown revitalization effort, is the 19,199-seat BOK Center. Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design of the elliptically shaped, 565,000-square-foot, multipurpose event facility that accommodates concerts, hockey, arena football, basketball, and community events.

The BOK Center’s irregular shape and geometry is formed by a series of tapering conical shapes molded together. The roof of the arena is framed by a pair of box trusses, clear spanning 330 feet across the seating bowl. Box trusses and perimeter beams support a system of more shallow shop assembled trusses and purlins. The use of box trusses and perimeter beams allowed for maximum shop pre-assembly, minimized erection schedule and improved site logistics. This approach reduced the project schedule and budget constraints, permitting extra focus and time for the design of the exterior walls.

The architectural focus of the project is the Icon Wall. The 75-foot-tall glass wall extends more than 500 feet across the south façade, and is supported at the east end by a soaring 80-foot by 80-foot entry canopy, which appears to float above the main entry without support. Design and construction of the glass wall required early accommodation of constructability into the analysis and design in order to achieve compatibility between the cantilever and glazing assembly.

Thornton Tomasetti designed a system of tie-downs to pre-deflect the girder equal to the deflections from the weight of the roof framing, pipe trusses and glazing. By pre-loading the cantilever, glazing joints were kept at a minimum to accommodate deflections from live loads.

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