Along I-40, at the edge of downtown Oklahoma City, there are several enormous sheet-metal buildings on the south side of the expressway. Developed as a cooperative in 1944, this industrial complex of 43 acres is defined by nine “seed houses” for the storage of cottonseed and an oil mill for processing. Once the cotton is harvested and the long cotton staples removed at a gin, the seeds, with short staple lint attached to the hull, are transported to seed houses. At the oil mill, the hull is removed, the seed cooked, rolled, and the oil extracted for use in cooking oil, shortening, and margarine. The seed is then sold as a by-product for the manufacture of cattle feed.
The form of all of these monumental prisms—hipped-roof with a continuous monitor on the ridge—is functionally derived: the forty-five degree roof slope is the angle of repose for cottonseed. The horizontal network of linear structural elements overhead are conveyors to move the cottonseed from elevators to the seed houses. These steel-framed seed houses have a total storage capacity of 125,000 tons of cottonseed and the largest is 360 by 150 feet and 90 feet tall with a capacity of 34,000 tons. Depending on the wind, visitors to Bricktown, a warehouse-turned-entertainment district also located on the eastern edge of downtown, sometimes complain about the smell wafting from the plant, which generally occurs when processing poorer canola crops grown during drought.
In April 2015, the plant closed when the company relocated to Altus with a reduced workforce, due to a nationwide downturn of cotton production. The cooperative sold the Oklahoma City complex in 2016 to an unknown buyer.
Lackmeyer, Steve. “Producers Cooperative mill shuts down cotton operation in Oklahoma City.” The Oklahoman, July 7, 2015.