Interiors by John Chadwick

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What's Ours is Yours

The drama inside J.L. Walker Construction
in Oklahoma City by Interior Options tempts
clients with remodeling options

By Linda Burnett


June 2000

The same raw materials, like concrete, used on the exterior of J.L. Walker Construction greet clients at reception with drama and simplicity.

Since April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City has been stigmatized as the site of a terrorist bombing—a tragedy that scarred the city and frightened the country. Five years later, it may seem appropriate to find a significant amount of remodeling and retrofit work downtown, considering the repairs needed by buildings damaged in the bombing. But the truth is the boom in construction began in 1993, when the citizens of Oklahoma City voted to raise taxes for five and a half years and put the money toward revitalizing their downtown. Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPs) was initiated to address quality of life issues. Funds went toward nine sizeable projects including a ballpark, canal, library, and renovations to the civic center. Aside from pleasing the locals, the improvements have attracted visitors, conventioneers, and motor coaches, and restaurants and hotels have popped up along the canal.

With construction in Oklahoma City on an upswing, local contractor J.L. Walker Construction has been doing good business. Founded in 1985, J.L. Walker is known for commercial renovations and remodeling, and has branched out into new construction and retrofit on older buildings over the years. Gross sales are a healthy $15 million, but the company still sought a way to stand out from the competition. Interior Options helped it accomplish such distinction with a dramatic, new 4,200-sq.ft. headquarters office that demonstrates to clients what they too can have.

Originally housed in the penthouse of a building in downtown Oklahoma City just two blocks from the bombing, J.L. Walker Construction was already accustomed to nice spaces. But with a solid future and a burgeoning client list, owner John L. Walker decided to build a new building for his own company, then hired Interior Options to create a contemporary interior space that would last as long as the company remained a tenant. One glimpse at this space and the striking atmosphere is apparent through such details as dim lighting, dark walls, and tucked-away offices. The lighting design also features high-intensity bulbs suspended from a ceiling track that accent the interior’s uniqueness in detail. At the entry, the company logo is etched in the lens of one bulb to project the name onto the wall within a single spotlight.


“The drama was intentional,” says Pamela Seffel, vice president of IL. Walker. “The point was to create a space that showcases the kinds of materials and finishes available to our clients. What we have, you can have.”

A quick tour reveals the myriad of possibilities. For example, some ceilings are left exposed to the ductwork while others are finished. The interior is composed of a variety of construction materials and styles, including drivets and concrete blocks, gypsum board and glass, tough leather and a curved stairway. A striking concrete floor is scored to appear like tile. “We opted for raw and honest materials;’ says John Chadwick, ASID, an interior designer with New York-based Interior Options, and an Oklahoma City native. “But there’s also a sense of luxury.”

In support of the raw, only the conference room, stairs, and mezzanine are carpeted for acoustical conditioning. Luxury, on the other hand, is apparent in such amenities as the mezzanine level, where employees relax for lunch, or entertain clients at the wet bar or on the patio off to the side. At any turn there’s something new—even a gilded Corinthian column for whimsy. “It’s a nice foil for the contemporary look,” adds Chadwick.

If anything, these classy offices may improve negative images of the construction industry. “Many people think contractors don’t have the body of knowledge and the eye for finishes,” says Seffel. “Although the architect has the final word, every day we are at the site to make sure it’s right. Even pouring concrete is a skill. Bad pouring can ruin a building. We take pride in our jobs.” Case in point—the receptionist here does not wear jeans.

The curved stairway and projected logo tell clients about J.L. Walker’s attention to detail.



The geometry of the framed glass  is tied with the patterns created by the exterior windows.


A conference room of windows and a Corinthian column juxtapose the simple dry wall and scored concrete.


The interiors accommodate the building’s square shape. The core of the building is box-like. The conference room and other common areas such as utility, planning rooms, and a kitchen are located within the core. Though these facilities are located centrally to all employees, there is little light here, so Chadwick used interior glass walls to increase the feeling of openness and unify the building’s exterior aesthetic with its interior theme. The glass walls are composed in the same geometric patterns found on the outside windows—with little box-like structures.
Chadwick designed two color schemes, one using the bright yellow and the black and white of the company’s brochures, and the other one using softer tones. The original idea was to mimic the colors used in J.L. Walker’s advertising, hut when the black and white palette seemed inappropriate for working conditions, designer and client made a unanimous decision to use softer grays and a splash of bright yellow.

An added bonus for a construction company designing its own interiors: all materials are up for grabs. In this case, Interior Options used recycled materials whenever possible. The doors in the building were taken from a demolition job for instance. That too can be specified for clients.

Project Summary


Project: J.L. Walker Construction corporate offices. Client: J.L. Walker
Architect: Wm Bruce Faudree Architect. Interior Designer:
Interior Options; John Chadwick, ASID.
General contractor: J.L. Walker
Lighting designer: Lighting Concepts by Alton McKey.
Photographer: Joseph Mills Photography.


Paint: Dulux Paint, Devoe Coatings. Laminate: Nevamar. Drywall: Temple.
Masonry CMU: Dolese. Carpet: Durkan. Lighting: Tech Lighting, Juno.
Glass: Greylite. Window frames/wall systems: Kawneer. Railings: Regency
Steel. Mlllwork, including workstations, conference tables: Custom.

Lounge seating: Haworth. Cafeteria/kitchen seating: Haworth.
Conference seating: Haworth. Other seating/Lobby seating: HBF. HVAC:
Security: FBI. Building management system: White Rogers.
Plumbing fixtures: Vitraform, Highline.


Location: Oklahoma City, OK. Total floor area: 4,200 sq. ft. plus 530-sq. ft.
mezzanine. No. of floors: 1, plus mezzanine. Total staff size: 10 in house, 40
in field. Cost/sq. ft.: $43.


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Interiors by John Chadwick

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