by Michael J. Crosbie
Seldom do skyscrapers succeed simultaneously on the skyline and at the curbstone. The typical goal of a tall building is to make an impact on the city as seen from a distance — to be an architectural monument in space.
The new Devon Energy headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City is certainly a potent landmark on the skyline; cab drivers from the airport enjoy pointing it out with a dose of civic pride.
But Devon is also a landmark at the scale of the pedestrian — moving across the city, into and through its remarkable public rotunda space, designed to cultivate civic life on the street, in a nearby park, and in the building itself.
Such integration is rarely experienced in contemporary big buildings. Corporations have, especially over the past dozen years, discouraged public access to their spaces. Devon has built a welcomed rejoinder to this trend.
This urbanistic approach is a product of the collaboration of the architect — Pickard Chilton, based in New Haven, Connecticut — and the client. Devon, one of the world's largest energy companies, was founded in Oklahoma City more than 40 years ago, but never had a central home there.
The goal of the headquarters was not only to consolidate Devon's corporate operations but also to make it, as Larry Nichols, one of the company's founders, describes it, "a gift to the city."
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Pickard Chilton designed a new 1.75-million-square-foot (163,000-square-meter) LEED Gold-certified company headquarters for Devon Energy, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Photo: Simon Hurst
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The main entrance to the Devon Energy Center is through a multistory glazed rotunda that links the building's office tower with a low-rise wing of training and conference spaces.
Photo: Pickard Chilton
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