Hines, an international real estate firm that built corporate headquarters for General Motors, Gannett, Union Pacific, Wells Fargo and H&R Block, has been hired to develop a downtown Oklahoma City skyscraper for Devon Energy. Devon Energy Chief Executive Officer Larry Nichols also confirmed Friday that an announcement of a renowned architect is expected within the next few weeks. Nichols said Houston-based Hines was selected following interviews with several other leading international developers that included Koll Development Co., Tishman Speyer and Patrinely. "They're all quality, very high quality developers,” Nichols said. "We could not have gone wrong with anyone in that group and others we talked to. We wanted a developer who was very active in building these types of buildings and had experience building high-rises with this size and scope and would have knowledge on how to build these buildings and have lists.” Nichols said he also appreciated Hines' ability to order materials in bulk for multiple projects and its list of subcontractors. "The numbers of all the firms you need to hire with specialties — think of the people who are needed to do the elevators ... it's a long list,” Nichols said. "I'm only gradually learning how long the list is. You want someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in that.” Nichols announced plans for a new Devon Tower last month, saying he wants to build it along Sheridan Avenue across from the Myriad Gardens. He estimates the building will be at least 1 million square feet, exceeding 37 stories, and costing more than $350 million. Nichols, who has previously indicated he wants a tower that will be "iconic,” has selected a firm that has worked with legends including Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei and Philip Johnson. Klay Kimker, Devon Energy's manager of corporate services, said Hines has consulted the company in selecting an architect and that a contract is almost complete. "We're very close,” Kimker said. "It could be just a few days, but we don't know yet.” Hines was founded in 1957 by Gerald Hines, and the company's first skyscraper was One Shell Plaza in Houston. The company has offices in 16 countries, with 63 regional offices in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, London, New York and San Francisco. Projects completed or under way consist of more than 1,000 properties including skyscrapers, corporate headquarters, mixed-use centers, industrial parks, medical complexes, master-planned resorts and residential communities. Currently the firm controls assets valued at $19.9 billion. John Wood, project officer at Hines, said his company specializes in doing "signature buildings.” Recent works include 1180 Peachtree in Atlanta, and corporate headquarters for H&R Block in Kansas City and the Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha.
Height still being decided"I think one of the reasons we're so excited and the reason Hines and Devon came together is Mr. Hines started this firm with the thought of using signature architecture to set buildings off and let the buildings make statements in the cities we build in,” Wood said. Since the new Devon Tower was announced, much public speculation has ensued as to the ultimate height of the skyscraper. Currently, the city's tallest building is Chase Tower, which is 36 stories high. Nichols said Friday he is still uncertain how tall the tower will be — and that the company is still evaluating floor plans that range between 22,000 and 27,000 square feet. That decision is key to the height; the smaller the footprint, the taller the building. Wood points to two buildings developed by Hine — Omaha's Union Pacific headquarters, with 1 million square feet, standing at 19 stories, and Atlanta's 1180 Peachtree building, with 700,000 square feet, which is 41 stories — as examples of how floor plans can impact height. Typically, Wood said, corporate headquarters buildings have larger footprints than do speculative office towers like 1180 Peachtree. The Omaha tower has a 50,000-square-foot floor plan, while the Atlanta tower's floor plan is 23,000 square feet. The task of determining Devon's footprint is under way with the assistance of Gensler, an interior-design firm that has worked with Devon for several years on space planning for its Houston and Oklahoma City offices. "We still don't have the answer (on height),” Nichols said. "We're still refining our own numbers in terms of how many square feet we need, which will be driven by our forecast on future employee headcount. Meanwhile, our space designers are looking at how we function and the ideal size of each floor. That should all come together in the not-too-distant future.”
1180 Peachtree in Atlanta was developed by Hines in 2005 and is example of how a smaller footprint of 23,000 square feet led to a height of 41 stories. Provided by Hines