IMEL, ARTHUR BLAINE, JR. (1921–2005).
Architect Arthur Blaine Imel, Jr., known as Blaine, was born to Arthur B. and Hazel K. Imel in Blackwell, Oklahoma, on December 30, 1921. Blaine Imel grew up in Cushing, Oklahoma. After graduating from Cushing High School, he attended Oklahoma Military Academy (now Rogers State University, Claremore), graduating in 1941, and then went to the University of Oklahoma (OU) where he studied architecture. His studies at OU were interrupted by service in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. Returning to OU, he studied under Bruce Goff. As in most architecture programs throughout the country, Imel learned compositional design, technical drawing, and construction drawing and participated in studio classes.
Imel began his career in the fall of 1950, setting up a practice with Bob Buchner, a local Tulsa architect, and Jack Welch. During this period Imel was asked to design houses for many Cushing residents, for whom he designed eight houses and one office building. The influence of his mentor, Bruce Goff, is demonstrated throughout his work in Oklahoma. Imel's buildings reflect the organic architecture movement for which Goff is most famous.
The geometry of Imel's designs is the most powerful characteristic of his work. He used three primary patterns: rectilinear, polygonal, and free form. His most prolific is rectilinear, in which the lines are parallel and perpendicular to each other. This methodology can be seen in his residential work in Cushing. His free-form plan is exhibited in the Osher House in Tulsa and in the Gillespie Drilling Company Building in Cushing, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NR12001039). Imel's interest in geometry and structural expressionism continued throughout his career. His use of repetitive patterns created intrigue in his designs.
Along with geometry, the second most powerful characteristic of Imel's designs is the use of windows. They alternate between large, expansive units, providing exterior views, to minimal clerestory windows or skylights, providing natural light to the interior. The building site is integral, because being able to view nature was also a key design component. Large window units allow the occupants to see out in private areas, but smaller clerestories on the public elevations provide a true sense of privacy.
Blaine Imel's work spans forty-nine years of practicing modern and organic architecture in the Oklahoma landscape. His buildings and philosophy continue to intrigue architects, historians, and the general public. He died on March 14, 2005.
Herb Greene, Recollections of Bruce Goff as a Teacher, Architecture Design 48 (No. 10, 1978).
Wolfgang Pehnt, Expressionist Architecture (New York: Praeger Publishers, New York, 1973).
Dennis Sharp, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture (New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991).
The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Lynda Schwan Ozan, "Imel, Arthur Blaine, Jr.," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed April 29, 2017).
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