21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City is a 135-room hotel, contemporary art museum with 14,000 square feet of galleries, event space, bar, restaurant, and spa. Building on the mission of engaging the public with contemporary art and supporting the revitalization of American downtowns, 21c Oklahoma City transforms the 188,000 square foot historic Ford Motor Company Manufacturing Building that was originally designed by Albert Kahn, master of modern industrial architecture in the US.
We cut through the concrete floorplate to insert new glass block lightwells that bring natural light into the core of the building. Many of our new spaces, including a distinctive round ballroom, were designed as freestanding objects set within the larger volume. Similarly, the loft-like guest rooms feature self contained floating beds and dressers and spare modern furnishings that reflect the building’s industrial heritage.
New freestanding volumes are inserted within each floor, many of which do not meet the high ceilings of the existing building (15-feet high on the ground floor, and 12-feet high on the upper floors), dramatizing the scale of the space. In the museum gallery, the concrete ceilings are exposed and industrial track lighting is installed for flexible and precise illumination. The raw nature of the space reflects the background of the building and draws on the history of artist lofts.
Key People
Stephen Brockman
Project Lead
Terrence Schroeder
Project Designer

Deborah Berke Partners

Design Architect and Interior Design

Hornbeek Blatt Architects

Executive Architect

Illumination Works

Lighting Design

Albert Kahn

Original Architect


Design Award of Merit

AIA Oklahoma

Honorable Mention for Adaptive Reuse

2016 Best of Design Awards

Citation of Merit

Oklahoma Historical Society State Historic Preservation Office

Interior Design

August 2016


August 2016

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Drawn map of building site and context.
Ground floor plan.
Guest room floor plan.
Building section.
Photograph of building site and context.
Pioneered by the Ford Motor Company, the efficient assembly line was a key force behind the early 20th century’s industrial expansion. The company’s signature process was perfected in the company’s Highland Park plant and then replicated in Ford’s 24 subsequent regional assembly plants. The Highland Park plant was designed by Albert Kahn, who used a highly functionalistic approach to create ideal conditions for maximized assembly efficiency. Kahn pioneered American industrial architecture, designing over 1,000 commissions in collaboration with the Ford Company throughout his career.
Completed in 1916, the Oklahoma City Assembly Plant exhibits many of characteristic features of the early 20th century industrial design: the structure made of reinforced concrete as opposed to wood, the large windows for light and ventilation, and the long and open floor plan necessary for the assembly line.
While efficiency was at the core of the design ethos for these factories, Kahn also invented signature design elements, such as the pronounced octagonal concrete columns with splayed capitals, still preserved as an aesthetic element of the readapted building today.
In the new design, we created vertical lightwells by cutting through the floorplates, bringing the light into the center of the building and creating transformative moments in unexpected places.