Lighting the Path Ahead

Progress is the process of advancement and the way we measure if something is moving in a positive direction toward improvement. Sometimes progress is only a gradual betterment, but other times, it is much more distinct and noticeable. For instance, if you got a B on your last test and a B+ on this one, that's  progress. Or if you’re on a long trip, every mile you drive toward your destination, that’s considered progress too. Basically, any time you are moving toward a desired goal, you are making progress. 

It really seems like Okmulgee is making a lot of progress right now. Every time I open the local newspaper or browse social media, I learn about something that has been improved in this town or something moving in a positive direction. 

This week, I would like to respond to a couple of questions about the “progress” being made within the Old Post Office.

Q: How are things coming along inside your construction project downtown?

A: In the final weeks of April, a significant milestone was achieved in the renovation of the Grand Old Post Office Complex. Workers removed the original floor joists and decking from the second floor in the east and west light wells. The removal of these structural members allowed one of the more dramatic conceptual designs envisioned by our architects to be achieved—a visual connection between the first and second floors. In both light wells, this creates a spectacular interior vista from the ground floor all the way up to the ceiling below the roof. This means the ceilings in these two public corridors are now over 30’ high with natural light coming in from fixed windows set above the roofline. 

With attractive and enticing public spaces like these, we will try to create a sense of community among the residents who will call this building home. Students will be able to enjoy these grand spaces from above or below as seating will be plentiful on the first floor, and railed openings will create natural observation points from the hallways of the second floor. Many lucky students will also have apartment windows that look over these common areas. How cool is that?

Q: What materials are being repurposed in the OSUIT Post Office project?

A: Not much is going to waste in our renovation. As I have mentioned in previous columns, many of the great original features of the building are being reimagined in the new design and reused in unique ways, e.g. weathered skylights, heavy industrial doors, wood moldings, paneled interior doors, hardware, and transoms/windows. Even the one hundred-year-old wooden floor joists that were removed from the new light wells will be repurposed. These 2x12 boards will be cut to length and made into stair treads in the new loft apartments. The beautiful old lumber will be appreciated for many years to come as students climb the stairs to their bedrooms.

I enjoy telling people about the progress on the Grand Old Post Office. So, thank you for asking, and by all means, please continue to forward your questions to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu

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Dr. Bill R. Path is president of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and board member of Okmulgee Main Street Inc. 

 

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