Tulsa Zoo to Exhibit Disaster-Resistant Homes for Future

January 5, 2007

The Tulsa Zoo will soon showcase an exhibit featuring a prototype for environmentally friendly and disaster-proof homes of the future. State Farm Insurance and American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma each contributed $50,000 on to build “The Millennium Center.”

The exhibit, expected to attract half-a-million people a year, will give the construction industry a model for how to build new neighborhoods across the city and nation.

“The true success of this project will be the team that will remain in place after the building is in place,” said Corey Williams, who will help oversee the project for Tulsa Partners, a nonprofit group that promotes disaster-resistant construction.

The team will include environmentalists, developers and experts on disaster preparedness – three distinct groups that don’t usually cooperate with each other, Williams said.

“We’re going to show them how to all work together,” she said.

The Millennium Center will combine technologies to make it highly energy efficient with construction techniques to make it resistant to tornadoes and other natural disasters.

“While it may be great to help people after a disaster,” project manager Bob Roberts said, “it would be much better to help prevent a disaster from affecting them in the first place.”

The exhibit was inspired by and named after a similar project in Tulsa called the Millennium House. Designed by Don McCarthy, a retired engineer, the house was open for public tours but is now a private home.

Like the Millennium House, the Millennium Center will avoid “futuristic” architecture. Instead, the design looks like a traditional, reasonably priced suburban home.

Inside, it will feature an array of gadgets and improvements to make it virtually self-sufficient in energy consumption, while withstanding damage from all but the most catastrophic storms.

Information from: Tulsa World, www.tulsaworld.com.

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