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A 1970s renovation enclosed the courtyard to form a 12-story atrium in a 10-story building, with glass elevators descending into a basement two floors below street level. But the design made no effort to match the Petroleum Building’s original 1921 architecture, leaving modernist additions to sit awkwardly next to historic details.

During the work 45 years ago, crews took pretty much the same approach to the building’s electrical, plumbing and ventilation systems, grafting the new onto the old without much effort to smooth over the transition. Then a second renovation added another layer of complexity in the 1980s.

“We had to kind of untangle all of it,” said Curt Hellen, president of Stava Building, a Tulsa-based construction company that recently finished a year-long project to convert the old office building into luxury lofts. “We were uncoiling the last 90 years of work on the building and trying to figure out what still worked and what had been disconnected but left in place.”

The historic rehabilitation project won the 2019 “Best of the Best” award last month from the Associated General Contractors of Oklahoma, recognizing the quality of the work despite the less-than-ideal conditions.

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