Published Sept. 2, 2021
David Reed's Favorite Projects
Nathan E. Harris Field House
David Reed (at right, standing beside guard rail) discusses the field house design with his Reed Architecture team members
David Reeds cherishes several memories from designing Booker T. Washington High School’s Nathan E. Harris Field House. That 2010 Tulsa Public Schools contract was the first significant project awarded to David Reed Architecture, which Reed founded in ’09 after finishing his work on Oklahoma State University’s Boone Pickens Stadium.
“Booker T. will always hold a very special place in my heart because it was a very special project,” said Reed, whose Sapulpa, OK, firm is now known as Reed Architecture and Interiors.
The field house’s physical location presented several challenges. It sat between the high school’s football, baseball, and softball stadiums, facing a one-way street that ran 14 feet higher than the football stadium grade.
“That slope ended up being excellent for us because we were able to have people come into the field house at the concourse level and feed them down into the arena,” said Reed. “That gave us a nice separation between public spaces and student-athlete spaces.”
Reed designed a 56,000-square-foot facility that would incorporate many of the lessons he learned from working on OSU’s Gallagher-Iba Arena and Boone Pickens Stadium.
In an immediate display of its multipurpose use, Reed turned the Booker T. field house entrance and lobby into a Hall of Fame gallery honoring achievements by the entire athletic program. Since it looks over S.E. Williams Stadium, that space doubles as a football game club level, even as it leads visitors into Booker T.’s 1,500-seat arena.
“We were asked to develop a prototype basketball arena for TPS high schools, one that limited fan access to the courts,” said Reed. “That’s why we have the bleachers raised up so that they didn’t have direct access from the fans to the court and you fed them into the arena from the top of the bleachers down.”
It’s here that Reed’s multipurpose design truly shines. By maximizing available space, the Nathan E. Harris Field House provides locker rooms and practice facilities for more than 10 different sports. It features an indoor baseball, softball, and golf practice facility, two practice areas for athletes and cheer/pom squads, two sports medicine training rooms, and a strength and conditioning room used by all student-athletes. It also boasts a hospitality suite overlooking both the arena and its neighboring baseball stadium.
When finished by general contractor Flintco in 2012, the field house drew accolades for not just these features, but how its brick architecture mixed so well with the high school’s existing campus.
“Mike Mims said it was their version of Gallagher-Iba Arena, which made me happy,” said Reed. “It’s such a blessing when the building turns out looking and working even better than you envisioned it.”
That leads us to David’s most cherished memory from all this.
“Working with Mike was a lot of fun,” Reed said. “He was the assistant principal, basketball coach, and all-around Mr. Booker T. He has such a love for Booker T. Washington High School.”
Reed said Mims was instrumental in helping him grasp how this field house could benefit the Booker T. student body. Mims also kept the students enthused about a construction project that interrupted several areas of campus life.
One time, he brought the student body out to sign a steel beam to be placed in the building,” Reed recalled. “He also got some art students to come out and paint the (Booker T.) Hornets’ logo on the side of the building during construction. That logo was going to be covered up by bricks, but he cared enough about it that he thought part of school history should be on the building itself.”
Mims also involved the students in opening the field house.
“He brought in the drumline and just made it quite the celebration for the students and the faculty, my design team, and the contractor team,” said Reed. “He was just great to work with.”