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Devon picks world leading architects to design headquarters, public space

By Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 17, 2008

Nichols said his favorite tower design in the Pickard Chilton portfolio is the planned 50-story Riverpoint in Chicago — a detail that caught Pickard and Chilton by surprise on Friday. Pickard said Riverpoint is a unique project where the design was somewhat dictated by its riverfront location.

“It's an unusual site with strange geometric problems and an Amtrak line that runs through the site,” Pickard said. “There was only one way — a very sculptured item, like minimalist art — to fit into the site.”

Chilton said their task is to create a design that not only meets Nichols' desire for an iconic tower, but one that will also meet his expectations for making a statement on behalf of employees, the community and Devon Energy shareholders. Pickard said Nichols has told them he wants a tower that also will be “civic minded.”

“We've had the good fortune to be involved in projects that came to symbolize cities and countries,” Chilton said. “It's a road we've been down before. This project raises all that to a new level for us.”

Pickard and Chilton echoed interest by Nichols in creating a special “winter garden” or “town hall” that will be a central focal point. Pickard said the only winter garden he thinks highly of is the 10-story glass-vaulted pavilion at New York City's World Financial Center designed by Pelli and built in 1988.

“Devon, and more specifically Larry Nichols, cares as much about the public space as he does about it being an iconic building,” Chilton said. “We've had the opportunity to tour projects with Larry looking at what makes a great public space. This will be a building that will engage the public realm.”

Pickard said Nichols' approach to the tower, as evidenced by his desire to somehow connect it to the Myriad Gardens and improve it as well, is unique.

“Devon Energy was born in Oklahoma City, grew there, prospered there, and there is a commitment to the city that is nearly unparalleled in our careers,” Pickard said. “We're not just creating a home for Devon Energy, we're creating a new heart for the city.”

The Facts

Parking: Larry Nichols, chief executive officer of Devon Energy, isn't ruling out the possibility of buying the west City Center Garage as part of construction of an adjoining corporate tower. Nichols said the company will need the entire garage, along with a substantial expansion, to accommodate employees. He noted the city's Santa Fe garage, more central to the business district, is full and likely will remain in demand after his company's move. A March parking report indicates the City Center garage had 322 monthly spaces vacant, compared to just three at the Santa Fe garage.

Timetable: The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority has yet to issue a request for development proposals for the proposed Devon Tower site. Nichols said Friday he hopes designs will be ready to present at the Urban Renewal board meeting in August.

What's Next: Nichols hopes to hire a landscape architect within the next couple weeks. Pickard Chilton is interviewing Oklahoma City-based architecture firms as it looks for a local partner.


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