RON JENKINS Associated Press Writer OKLAHOMA CITY
Devon Energy Corp., the operations of which include a Havre office, will build a new headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City that includes a 54-story, 925-foot tall skyscraper that will be the tallest building in Oklahoma and cost upward of $750 million. CEO Larry Nichols said the building, set to be completed in 2012, will house more than 2,200 employees initially with annual payroll of $265 million. Devon employees are now located in five buildings in the city. Mayor Mick Cornett said it was by far the largest private construction project ever undertaken in Oklahoma City. Nichols said Devon is growing, with over 40,000 natural gas and oil wells still to be drilled "and we're building on that every day." Officials believe 3,000 employees will eventually be housed in the new building. The company bills itself as the largest U.S.- based oil and gas producer and is 221st on the latest Fortune 500 list with $12.1 billion in revenue. The skyscraper will eclipse the 52-story Bank of Oklahoma Tower in Tulsa. Oklahoma City's tallest building is now the 36-story Chase Tower. Nichols said the project shows the company's commitment to the city, and the complex is being designed to blend in with the city's existing architecture and not overpower it. As to the future of Devon, Nichols said every large company he is aware of being sold either had problems or wanted to be sold. "I can assure you we have no problems and we don't want to be bought," he said. Adjacent to the 1.9 million square-foot building will be a glass rotunda that will be 100 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter, where employees will enter the building. Nearby will be a large conference center and park area. The project is being managed by Hines, which has offices in 16 countries, and Pickard Chilton is the lead architect. Other companies involved in the development include Glensler, Kendall Heaton Associates and Cushman Wakefield Co. Jon Pickard, one of the founders of Pickard Chilton, said the skyscraper will be illuminated and a large urban park nearby will include fountains, a green space, a pavilion and a reflective pool. He said the six-level glass "knuckle," or rotunda, is the heart of the project's design, which he said is an attempt to "create a beacon" in the center of the city. The peak construction work force for the project is estimated at 500 employees. The project received unanimous approval of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority. "I think today we are seeing what in the future will be the heart of our city. This is a magnificent, magnificent building," said Stanton Young, chairman of the authority According to a database compiled by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat the proposed tower would be the 20th tallest building in the United States as of today. The only cities with taller buildings would be Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Seattle. It would also be the 54th tallest building in the world. However, dozens of taller buildings have been proposed and not yet built. Officials said the Devon project will generate revenue to help develop the 17-acre Myriad Gardens area across the street. Cornett said it will anchor the Core to Shore plan, referring to development of an area south of downtown to the Oklahoma River which is expected to pick up after Interstate 40 is moved south of its current location.