A 25-YEAR-OLD FROM HALF A WORLD AWAY WHO BUILT A SCALE MODEL OF DOWNTOWN OKLAHOMA CITY MIGHT VISIT INSPIRATION
Architect may host ‘Russian Sam’
By Steve Lackmeyer
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Edition: CITY, Section: BUSINESS, Page 6C
Miles Associates has spent the past two decades helping mold and shape the Oklahoma Health Center. Now one of the firm’s architects is leading an effort to move downtown Oklahoma City halfway around the world.
Dennis Wells is no stranger to the downtown scene. He’s been a leader in advocating modern architecture in the downtown-area neighborhood south of St. Anthony Hospital that he calls SoSA (South of St. Anthony).
Wells was one of dozens of locals who became acquainted this year with “Russian Sam” — a 25-year-old Hypermart worker living in St. Petersburg, Russia, who has built a model of downtown Oklahoma City.
“Russian Sam,” whose real name is Elijah Shvetsov, has wowed the online community for months with his work, so much so that Wells is leading an effort to bring Shvetsov — and maybe his model of downtown — to Oklahoma City in time for the World Creativity Forum on Nov. 16.
To date Wells has secured his firm’s support for flying Shvetsov to Oklahoma City, and Wells himself will be hosting Shvetsov if they can manage to pull off the trip. Creative Oklahoma, meanwhile, is going to provide Shvetsov free access to the forum and potentially a helicopter ride over the downtown he created using photos and renderings found on the Internet.
If Shvetsov makes it to Oklahoma City, just a tour of the work done by Miles Associates, led by Bud Miles, will provide him with an expansive view of the city’s development. The firm’s portfolio includes all of the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park and health and science technology centers throughout the region.
No guarantees yet
The trip isn’t a sure thing. Diplomatic hurdles are almost a certainty even though Shvetsov has secured a passport. Funding is still needed for his expenses in Oklahoma City. And language barriers add to the challenge of bringing Shvetsov to town.
Shvetsov started his hobby gluing pieces of paper together into buses at age 6. He assembled his first building model of the World Trade Center in 1997. After building models of prominent landmarks from around the world, he decided to build an entire downtown. After surveying cities worldwide, he chose Oklahoma City because of its density and relative compactness of its central business district.
He sought out photos online and provided a glimpse of his project at www.skyscrapercity.com. It was there that some Oklahoma City residents found out about his work, and he was introduced on local community forum www.okctalk.com.
Creative Oklahoma, meanwhile, promotes and catalyzes creative idea generation in individuals and institutions. And so the question was posed: What better way to showcase creativity and imagination than by hosting a young man from halfway around the world who saw downtown Oklahoma City as a great place to re-create in miniature form?
HOW TO HELP
Contributions can be sent to: Creative Oklahoma 133 W Main No. 100, Oklahoma City, OK 73102.
For more information: E-mail Dennis Wells at DWells@milesassociates.com.