GE center could spark more development, industry in Oklahoma City

The $110 million GE Oil and Gas Technology Center was designed locally, and could have a major impact in the Oklahoma City area.
by Steve Lackmeyer and Adam Wilmoth Published: December 7, 2013
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“They're not just doing research for themselves, they're doing research for other companies,” Miles said. “Customers may have a dedicated suite of rooms and will stay for several days.”

As was accomplished with the design work at Devon Energy Hall and the Rawl engineering practice center, architects sought to create a building that emphasizes collaboration with clients and the community.

“One of their main goals with this building is to connect with the main players in the industry,” Baitz said. “They want to be close with the people they will be collaborating with.”

A five-story atrium is part of that function, designed to connect the research and office half of the building with a three-story showroom that is topped by a two-story cafeteria. The atrium is designed to visually connect directly with the downtown skyline.

Making connections

Miles believes the GE project will spark other development along the I-235/10th Street corridor, which itself connects the health sciences district with St. Anthony Hospital, Automobile Alley and Midtown.

Construction on the 95,000-square-foot building is set to start this spring and open by spring 2015.

Civic leaders agree the impact of the GE complex is far more than a $110 million building and 130 employees.

“I think it's going to probably end up being much more significant than what we think of in terms of economic impact and jobs,” said Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “I think it's also going to draw a lot of attention to the city.”

Sparking development

That attention could lead to other development by GE and its partners.

“When a company like GE decides to build an international research facility here, I think other companies will think maybe there's something going on there that we ought to look at,” Williams said. “What we don't yet know is what spins out of this, if and when commercialization occurs from some of this research, as well as will it attract other partners.”

Such development has been common at GE's other global research centers.

“We start typically with certain aspirations,” GE's Little said. “Typically over time, we will exceed those expectations rather dramatically. I hope that's in the future for us here.

“What also happens is GE builds businesses around these research areas. Increasingly we are focused on enhanced manufacturing technologies, so it would be natural for us to think of building these here.”

by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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