Wright’s only skyscraper, the Price Tower is also one of only two Wright structures to have a vertical orientation (the other being the Johnson Wax Research Tower).
The inspiration for the oil pipeline firm’s “tower in a country town” was an unrealized 1925 proposal of Wright’s for a New York City apartment building called St. Mark’s Tower. Wright described the design as a tree-like mast supported by a central “trunk” of four elevator shafts anchored by a deep central foundation. The Price Tower’s 19 concrete floors cantilever like branches of a tree. Freed from their load-bearing function, the exterior walls become ornamental screens decorated in patinated copper “leaves” and gold-tinted glass. The materials for the Price Tower were equally innovative for the era: cast concrete walls, pigmented concrete floors, and aluminum-trimmed windows and doors. The Price Tower completely changed the horizon of the Oklahoma prairie town. Purchased in 1981 by Phillips Petroleum, the Price Tower Arts Center now includes a museum, hotel and bar. The Inn at Price Tower occupies seven of the upper floors of the Wright skyscraper.