Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Devon Tower

On August 20, 2008, the March Madness which began with Oklahoma City's successful Ford Center expansion and renewal and ended with Devon Energy Corporation's announcement that it proposed to build a new downtown skyscraper continued, and, Boy Oh Boy, did it ever!

Related Articles
Height is fleeting — beauty endures

Oklahoma Skyscraper City Circa 1931
Also, see this SkyscraperPage.com forum thread

If you want to skip ahead, links within this article are:

Preliminaries   The Presentation
Devon's Press Kit Images   Photos I took

PRELIMINARIES. At a specially convened meeting of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority (OCURA), at about 9:30 a.m. on August 20 in the 4th floor auditorium of the Ronald J. Norick Library & Learning Center which holds about 150 people, OCURA's board heard Devon's presentation and proposal to develop the area below for its new corporate headquarters:

NOTE: For all images in this article, click the image for a larger view.


Ever since Devon's March 13 announcement, excited speculation has covered the map — how tall would it be, how many square feet, what would it look like? In Steve Lackmeyer's interview with Larry Nichols, Devon's CEO, Mr. Nichols said that it would be over 1,000,000 square feet, that it would cost about $350-$400 million, that it would be at least 37 stories high, and that its design would be "iconic."

Well, now we know. At the OCURA meeting, Devon presented its proposal for a 54 story, 925' skyscraper that will be the tallest building in Oklahoma and cost at least $750 million! And, yes, Devon's new headquarters is, indeed, "iconic" (I'm still not sure what that word means, but when you see the images below, you will most likely agree).
Is This Iconic or What?


But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I arrived at the library at about 8:45 a.m. and the door guard asked, "Press?" I had my camera in tow and said, "Yes." Well, at least one nice professor at OCU has dubbed me as a "citizen journalist," so I wasn't completely lying. Plus, Steve Lackmeyer was taking me under his wing on this occasion so I considered myself to be a cub reporter, anyway! So, am I "press?" Hell yeah!

People started arriving in the auditorium before 9 a.m. While displays were evident, the parts which contained the proposed structures were either enclosed in boxes or were turned backwards so that one couldn't see them. The images below show the scene before the 9:30 meeting convened.







Steve Lackmeyer & Jack Money, Oklahoman Reporters
and authors of OKC: 2nd Time Around

keep on-line readers apprised as events unfolded after 9:30


As the meeting progressed, Steve (ably assisted by his colleague Jack Money) kept OKC Central readers informed by posting to his blog from his handy laptop! The number of "hits" at his blog doubtless went through the roof this morning and during the day as internet readers were hungering for news of every step in this morning's activities! As Steve's cub reporter, I got to sit next to him on the front row!

THE PRESENTATION. Finally, shortly after 9:30 a.m., the meeting convened. The OCURA board made its preliminary statements, including that a proper proposal had been timely received ... it was "unboxed," and distributed to its members. The floor was then turned over to Devon to make its pitch to OCURA.

Devon's CEO Larry Nichols Makes Opening Remarks


Mr. Nichols indicated that Devon's 1,700 downtown employees were presently spread around five different buildings and that the employee number would increase — he said that Devon has 40,000 wells under contract which have not yet been drilled. He said that the project was mainly driven by Devon's desire to provide its workers with an "exciting place for them to be." That said, Mr. Nichols restated Devon's commitment to Oklahoma City — to continue contributing to making Oklahoma City an "exciting, dynamic, and vibrant place to be."

He then introduced Gerald D. Hines, Chairman of Hines, the Development Manager for this project. Mr. Hines traveled to Oklahoma City from London to make this event in Oklahoma City.

Gerald D. Hines


The floor was then turned to Jon Pickard of Pickard Chilton Architects Inc., the Design Architects for the project.

Jon Pickard


Pickard Chilton has designed some of the most beautiful buildings in the world, including the following:


300 N. LaSalle, Chicago

4 Seasons, Malaysia

AIM, Houston

Main Place, Houston

Peachtree, Atlanta

Riverpoint, Chicago

Pickard quoted a statement which he attributed to the Colcord's architect ... he may have said the architect to be Louis Sullivan (see this Lackmeyer & Money article), but William Wells, a protégé of Sullivan, was the architect of Oklahoma City's first "skyscraper" in 1910, the Colcord Building, now Hotel and being acquired by Devon. In any event, his quote was something like this: "A skyscraper is every inch a proud and soaring thing." He described his charge from Devon to make this building "the most beautiful that we know how" and that height was not the object.

OK, OK, but what did he show us for Oklahoma City?

The boxes were removed, posters were turned around, and Oklahoma City got its first look at the proposed Devon Tower, to be completed in 2012, work to be started next year.


Many more images are shown at Press Kit Images and My Photos, below.

After Pickard was done, Larry Nichols joined him for the finale.


Nichols made a few closing remarks and then advised the OCURA board that a team of experts were present to answer any of their anticipated questions.

He then said to the OCURA board, "Any questions?"

A long pregnant silence then occurred. It was evident that all members of the OCURA board, as well as others in attendance, were wholly stunned and, in fact, were speechless by Devon's presentation. None spoke, probably couldn't. It was like everyone was collectively mesmerized and thinking, "You mean, THIS is being proposed to be done in Oklahoma City, RIGHT NOW? By someone who can actually foot the bill?"

Finally, nervous laughter broke out in the auditorium due to the comical speechless circumstance presented, and a motion was made in the OCURA board, seconded, and passed unanimously, that the Devon proposal be accepted, and that was that!


The motion's adoption was followed by hearty applause and the official OCURA meeting was adjourned and people in attendance were given the opportunity to ask questions, after which everyone ogled over Devon's exhibits.

Some interesting questions were posed from the audience. Those that I noted are as follows:
  • What about Devon possibly being bought moving to Houston? Mr. Nichols replied that since 1971 (when Devon began here), he's never seen a company be bought and move that (a) didn't have problems, or (b) wanted to be bought, anyway. He added, "We have no problems, and we don't want to be bought."

  • How will the building be lit at night? Mr. Pickard demonstrated (by having the lights dimmed and turning on a light switch in the large model) that the triangular crown would be lit at night and, possibly, the "inset" areas of the generally triangular building might be, as well.

  • How about adding another 10' to make the tower the 20th tallest building in the U.S.? (An audience member had quickly done internet research to find that at 925' the tower would be 10' feet shy of the 20th.) Pickard laughed and though that would be cool — his architectural firm wouldn't mind that a bit! Nichols laughed, too, but not in an affirmative way! Earlier, either Pickard or Nichols had commented (I don't recall which), speaking to "height," "Height is fleeting. Beauty is not."

  • Whether during questioning or before (I don't recall), Mr. Nichols indicated that Devon's landscape architects on the project would be working with the Myriad Gardens' people to help make it become what it had the potential to be, at Devon's expense.

  • Before the questions, emphasis was placed on the integration of this project with existing buildings and plans for the future, Pickard noting that the "Harvey Axis" running north to south in the Core To Shore planning would place the Rotunda exactly in that path.

  • Also before questions, it was said that the west (near Hudson) Center City parking garage would be expanded to 10 floors, to be used by Devon employees.
PRESS KIT IMAGES. The "Press Kit" included on a CD and distributed to members of the press (me, included!) are shown below. These and other images were presented during Mr. Pickard's presentation.

Skyline Drawing

In addition to clicking the image for a better view,
for a very high resolution view of this image, click here




Architectural Renderings





Interior View



Dining Court



Southwest Corner Park



Rotunda Entrance

The Rotunda was described as the core of the project,
tying everything together, including public access to the
1st 2 floors of the Rotunda as they walked north and south.

In addition to clicking the image for a better view,
for a very high resolution view of this image, click here






Inside the Rotunda

In addition to clicking the image for a better view,
for a very high resolution view of this image, click here




Site Plan

The west part (left of the Rotunda in the image below) will
not only house some Devon employees but will also contain
restaurants and retail vendors, open to the public.

A 2½ acre public park will be at the southwest corner.

In addition to clicking the image for a better view,
for a very high resolution view of this image, click here




Elevation View Looking East



Elevation View Looking North

In addition to clicking the image for a better view,
for a very high resolution view of this image, click here



MY PHOTOS. In addition to some already shown, others are shown here.















I could close this with Steve Lackmeyer always
working for, and getting, a story ...




... but I won't. I'll close it with this:
Alesha Leemaster, Devon Communication Specialist,
congratulating Doug Dawg, Cub Reporter,
on a Job Well Done!




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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Doug. Yes, you are a citizen journalist, and there's a reason why you have such a great following on this blog. I was more than happy to "get you in the door...."
-steve

Karried said...

Awesome job Doug, as usual! Your pictures brought it to life for me and I had goosebumps reading about this incredible 'iconic' addition to OKC. I can hardly believe the momentum of this city. Amazing time to be a part of it all!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, my friend. While I'll never match you and what you do, you do set the standard that I'm endeavoring to accomplish. You're the man!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Karrie!

Kristopher said...

Came in from Chicago last night, and been catching up on the local news. wow, this is something! I never thought I'd see another large high-rise downtown - I was skeptical when I heard about the first announcement of a shorter tower, but this is amazing. The fifth-tallest building in the nation west of Chicago? In OKC? It's going to definitely dwarf everything already downtown, but I think it's something Oklahoma City needs - the city has too long suffered in the shadows of other cities in the region - this is OUR time now, time to say OKC is not the dusty cowtown that Tom Joad never lived in, but rather a major American city. And go Thunder - I will dodge everything thrown at me when they come to the United Center and the on;y time I want to see the Bulls lose!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, kristopher!Well, we may not be beating the Bulls right away, but when Chicago comes to town, they'll hear the crowd, I promise you! If this town went crazy over the Hornets, just think what it will be like with their OWN TEAM! Madness. Good Madness!

Exiting times around these parts! Thanks again for your comment. The Devon Tower is mind-boggling.

Kristopher said...

Oklahoma City was known as "Loud City" by the media during the years we hosted the Hornets. I was also a Blazers' season ticket holder in the early years when we'd fill the Myriad against Tulsa and Wichita. Which the latter almost made me cringe when the owners chose the name for the NBA team - "Thunder" -I am going to have to wipe memories of that name's association with those thugs from Wichita. Stay tuned for the "Forgotten OKC" website, I am working on it, and it will always be a work in progress - I have stacks of old newspaper articles on my first two subjects, the "Chinese Tunnels" and the Streetcars - look for it Spring, '09.

Doug Dawg said...

Your project sounds great, Kristopher. I'll be looking for it!