'The Channels' Project Architect Talks About His Vision

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 10:10 am
By: News On 6

The architect behind "The Channels" project starts a round of public presentations Tuesday; to make the case that Tulsa needs to do something along the Arkansas River.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says an architect out of Vancouver created 'The Channels' project named Bing Thom. He was hired by a group of prominent Tulsans to come up with a plan to revitalize the city.

He told the News on 6 that he looked first at downtown, but decided the river was the logical heart of Tulsa. Bing Thom is a celebrated architect who works all over the world. He says he accepted the job in Tulsa because the river had so much potential, yet it seemed like no one had a real plan for it. "At this time in Tulsa's history, you need a vision, a vision that will inspire you to take the next step."

His vision for the Arkansas River became "The Channels." It's a development plan to dam up the Arkansas River at 21st Street, making the river navigable back to Sand Springs.

The centerpiece is a set of islands with acres of public areas and a bridge to the east bank. "Within the river, you need a gathering place, a place where you can point to and say this is our heart. The river is the vein, our arteries, but where it the heart?"

Thom said the positive effects of a river development would spill over to downtown, but it might not work the other way around. He said downtown was too far from the river and possibly too far in decline for it to be quickly turned around.

He compared the project to a rebirth of the city that would be worth the now estimated $700 million price. "It is a little frightening, in another way it is a challenge to say can you not afford to take up this challenge, because it is more than one generation, it is for generations to come, this is how your forefathers founded the city, right?"

To find out more about 'The Channels' project, click on www.tulsachannels.com.