The founder and CEO of Devon Energy Corp., Larry Nichols, announced today the company plans to build a 925-foot, 54-story skyscraper in downtown Oklahoma City, to house its expanding employee base and play host to civic gatherings.
The project was unveiled at a meeting of Oklahoma City's Urban Renewal Authority in the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library. The Authority voted unanimously to approve the project.
Architect Jon Pickard, representing the Connecticut-based firm Pickard and Chilton, said the building will be the tallest in downtown Oklahoma City and "one of the world's tallest buildings," approximately as tall as the Eiffel Tower. However, he said, the design was built to be used and sustainable, not just tall. Pickard said the building was designed to complement the iconic structure of the nearby art deco First National Building, built in the 1930s.
"Height is fleeting," Pickard said. "Beauty is not."
Nichols said initial estimates place the company's costs for the building at $750 million " but insisted that the figure was preliminary. The skyscraper itself will have 1.5 million square feet for up to 3,300 employees and consultants, Nichols said.
"This will cost more than all the MAPS projects combined," Nichols said.
In addition to the skyscraper, which will sit next door to the Colcord Building north of the Myriad Gardens, there will also be a 400,000-square-foot meeting hall, which is being referred to as the "Podium," a 2.5-acre park, and a clear glass, six-story rotunda built to encourage pedestrian traffic.
Mayor Mick Cornett said the project will add to the massive city Core-to-Shore plan that will encourage pedestrian traffic and other development in the downtown area.
"This building will be at the top of the Core-to-Shore plan," said Mayor Mick Cornett.
The "Podium" section of the complex will also house restaurants, shops and areas for public stage performances, Nichols said, in addition to being a conference hall for the company and for possibly other events.
Nichols said the company also plans to buy the five-story West Galleria parking garage to the north of the complex, add five more stories to it, and make it exclusively Devon employee parking. Nichols said that since Devon has outgrown its current office space, employees are spread around different office spaces throughout downtown, and take up parking spaces often in prime areas. Those parking space would now be freed up, he said.
Nichols said there is still much planning to go into the project, including more work with the Authority. Among other aspects of the site, Nichols said the company has to work closely with the city in narrowing both Sheridan and Hudson to allow for more pedestrian access to the complex.
"Everyone agrees that Hudson is too big. It's a six-lane speedway," Nichols said. "So do you put parking all around the Myriad Gardens? There is a lot of planning like that that the city people are delighted to do." "Ben Fenwick