David Reed's favorite projects: the EPAC
Published Nov. 1, 2022
"I really like how it turned out"
The Edison Preparatory Athletic Center, or EPAC
November marks the 10th anniversary of Tulsa Edison Preparatory Middle and High School opening its athletic center. That beautiful building represents the second major project designed and completed by Reed Architecture and Interiors.
"What I like about the Edison Preparatory Athletic Center is that international style, which we carried over from the main campus," said David Reed, founder and principal of Reed Architecture. "We also borrowed a lot from the Jim Sellers Gymnasium (the high school's original home court). I love that gym's windows and fieldhouse atmosphere. We incorporated several features from that gymnasium in this project."
The 56,000-square-foot EPAC (as this center's commonly known) boasts a 1,200-seat arena with exposed rafters ringed by windows. Those elements, which soar over the EPAC's sunken playing floor, foster a classic fieldhouse atmosphere. That court also heightens player safety by limiting fan access to the teams, coaches, and referees.
The EPAC lobby
Visitors walk into that romantic arena through a showcase entryway lined with glass panels. Its dynamic interior design wraps the ticket booth and surrounding trophy cases within the wings of eagles, Edison's beloved mascot. This leads to a central concourse providing fans easy access to upper and lower bleachers, a concession stand, and a luxury suite overlooking the court.
"It really has a neat character and feel to it," Reed said of the arena. "The main entryway is like the eagle's body, and then the glass sweeps up and catches the eagle’s wings flowing upward. The curved metal panels in the ceiling emulate the swooping nature of the eagle's wings."
Unfortunately, from its landmark perspective, site logistics required Reed Architecture place this lovely building at the back of the high school, hidden from the outside world.
"That is my biggest regret," said Reed, "but it couldn't be helped. To serve all the school's athletic needs, we had to plant the EPAC right in the heart of their athletic complex. It stands next to the baseball stadium, the football and track fields, the tennis courts, and the softball field. The EPAC actually sits on top of where the original softball field was. We had to relocate that."
These issues reflect why Reed Architecture became involved in this project. The EPAC marked the second of three arenas designed by David Reed Architecture (his firm's original name, located then in Tulsa) under a 2010 bond package for Tulsa Public Schools. This marked the first significant contract landed by Reed, who founded his firm in 2009 after finishing his project architect and senior project manager role over the final construction (phase three – the west endzone) of Oklahoma State University's renowned Boone Pickens Stadium.
"It was a busy time," said Reed. "The original request from Tulsa Public Schools was to design a prototypical basketball arena that they could place at each school site. We accomplished that. But while each of these arenas (Booker T. Washington High School, Memorial High School, and Edison) had very similar characteristics, each site had very different challenges. And since we also worked to incorporate each school's unique heritage and specific needs, the arenas ended up quite different. Which is a good thing, in many ways. As a designer, I always want to be sensitive to the site and the existing architecture."
Besides its versatile arena, the EPAC houses locker rooms for 10 different athletic programs, sports medicine and strength and conditioning facilities, a film room, coaching offices, a golf simulator, and indoor batting cages.
"It serves nearly every athletic program they have," Reed said. "And it opened up space in the main campus for other programs to use."
Flintco completed the EPAC's construction that fall. Tulsa Public Schools held its ribbon-cutting in November 2012.
"I really like how it turned out," said Reed. "It provides a lot of services for the school outside of athletics. And I like that quote by Thomas Edison that we worked into the floor: 'Be courageous, have faith, go forward!' It's inspiring to me and I hope for all that walk through there.
"I'm very appreciative of the relationships I built during that time," he added. "I started that project with Stacey Vernon as the principal. Then she was elevated to assistant superintendent, and I got to work with Derrick Schmidt. I still consider him a good friend and fun golfing buddy."