Devon Energy Corp. executives on Tuesday dedicated Oklahoma's newest and tallest skyscraper.
The Devon Energy Center dedication marked the end of a nearly three-year construction project and the continuation of a time of development and improvement at Devon and throughout Oklahoma City, CEO John Richels said.
“This building is a symbol of Devon's growth and of Oklahoma City's growth,” he said. “Our state is thriving. We are in a very enviable position compared to many other states in the union.”
When construction began on the $750 million, 50-story tower in 2009, architect Jon Pickard told The Oklahoman he knew of no other skyscrapers being started in the country during what was the tail end of the Great Recession.
Gov. Mary Fallin praised Nichols and other Devon executives for completing the project despite the changing economy.
“In 2008, when we went through our economic downturn, it would have been easy for Larry Nichols and his team to sit back and say, ‘This is a tough time for our nation,'” Fallin said. “But he kept his word and kept his commitment and completed this skyscraper. He had faith in the people of Oklahoma.”
The tower and its connected rotunda and meeting rooms house 1.8 million square feet of office space.
About 1,700 Devon employees work in the building. Earlier this month, the company said it will close its Houston office and move “several hundred” jobs to the headquarters.
While the tower is designed to house Devon's employees and operations, the restaurant and much of the ground floor space is open to the public.
“We wanted to help build Oklahoma City and the downtown core,” Nichols said. “I've never seen a vibrant city that did not have a vibrant core. We want the community to be a part of us, and we want to be part of the community. We designed the building to support that.”
The building reflects more than just the growth of Devon in recent years, Mayor Mick Cornett said.
“Beyond the visible changes, the emotional impact on Oklahoma City is just as strong if not stronger,” Cornett said. “Those of us who have been in the community and remember the toils and trials of the '80s and the struggles of the '90s realize what it means when we reopened the (Hilton) Skirvin (Hotel) and cut a ribbon today on a tower as majestic as this.”
The striking change to the city's skyline has been credited with helping attract conferences and other businesses to the state.
“I have the opportunity as governor to meet with a lot of national and international people. Devon is one of those names that is known around the world,” Fallin said. “When I tell people Devon's world headquarters is in Oklahoma City and that they just completed a new 50-story, modern tower in the downtown area, it perks up their ears that they should consider coming to Oklahoma.”
The project also drew praise from other energy companies in the city.
“This changes everything about Oklahoma City,” said SandRidge Energy Inc. CEO Tom Ward, who attended the dedication. “Instantaneously, you can look up and see how great Oklahoma City is doing and what Larry has done over the past 30 years.”
SandRidge is amid its own construction project. The company recently renovated the former Kerr-McGee Tower and is upgrading two other downtown Oklahoma buildings that combined will create a new SandRidge campus.
Meanwhile, Chesapeake Energy Corp. is continuing to expand its headquarters across town, and Continental Resources Inc. and Enogex each recently moved their headquarters to downtown buildings.
The growth at so many of the city's energy companies benefits the entire industry and has helped local companies recruit employees from across the country, Ward said.
“There's a lot of vitality in Oklahoma City,” Ward said. “We have a great employee base in the community. That brings people from Houston and everywhere else.”
Devon Energy Center facts
• At nearly 850 feet tall and 50 stories high, Devon Tower is the 10th tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
• Includes 1.8 million square feet of space, equivalent to 31 football fields.
• Each tower floor has 144 exterior glass panels.
• Includes 805,000 square feet of glass, equal to almost 17 football fields.
• The center has 50 elevators and 117 restrooms.
• The project required 123,000 cubic yards of concrete, enough for more than 7,200 average-sized residential drivers.