BOK Center's glass wall gets first cleaning since opening
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Friday, June 18, 2010
6/18/10 at 10:18 PM
It turns out that you can polish a jewel with a dab of dishwashing soap.
At least that’s what crews from Budget Glass Service are using, along with water and ammonia, to clean the iconic glass wall at the BOK Center.
It’s the first cleaning of the wall since just before the downtown arena opened in September 2008.
“When you go upstairs and you look into the glass and you see dirt, it’s time,” said Willie Williams, senior operations manager for the BOK Center.
The six-member cleaning crew began work Tuesday and is expected to take a month to finish the job.
Williams said window cleaners started at the grand lobby along Denver Avenue and are working their way west around the outside of the building. When that’s done, they’ll do the inside of the windows.
“We just wanted them to start here first so that way it gives the community a good appearance and lets people know we are maintaining the facility for them,” Williams said.
Maintaining the BOK Center has been a challenge because it is so big, he said.
“This is a beast,” he said.
It’s also a beauty, of course, in great part because of the iconic wall.
The signature feature of the arena — designed by famed architect Cesar Pelli — includes 1,600 panels that combined stretch 600 feet in length and reach 103 feet from the ground.
Trent Ray, one of the window cleaners, uses a pulley system to methodically work his way from the top of the wall to the bottom, one window at a time.
On Thursday, Ray sat down in his “chair” — a wooden plank covered with carpet and attached to a pulley — and dipped a handleless, soft-bristled broom into an orange bucket full of water, Dawn dishwashing soap and ammonia.
“It gets it pretty clean,” he said.
There is no going up the glass wall — once on the ground, crew members take the elevator back up to the top of the building.
“We usually try to do five drops a day per man,” Ray said.
The 36-year-old Tulsan has been cleaning windows for only eight months. The BOK Center is the tallest structure he’s ever worked on.
Yet he seemed unfazed.
“You’re tied back to the building one or two times,” he said, “so if your first rope goes, you have your safety line.”
Budget Glass Service is being paid $35,000 to clean the glass wall, Williams said.
Last year, the company was hired to remove markings that had developed on the arena’s stainless steel panels.
The markings — located primarily on the west, east and north sides of the building — formed when dust and other pollutants settled on silicon caulking that was bleeding from the windows.
John Bolton, the BOK Center’s general manager, said testing on a new sealant that would be placed over the existing sealant is under way.
“We think it’s made a huge difference,” he said, but he cautioned that the testing process isn’t finished.
Trent Ray of Budget Glass Service in Catoosa cleans the glass on the exterior of the BOK Center on Thursday. ZACH GRAY/Tulsa World
Trent Ray of Budget Glass Service in Catoosa removes his harness after descending from the iconic glass wall of the BOK Center on Thursday. ZACH GRAY/Tulsa World