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01.16.2014
Energy City
Oil and gas build big in Houston.
ExxonMobil, Pickard Chilton and Gensler.
Courtesy Pickard Chilton / Gensler

In pockets throughout Houston, construction cranes speckle the skyline, signaling a surge of new development driven by the city’s booming energy industry. From the heart of downtown to the Woodlands, oil and gas companies are breaking ground on new towers and sprawling corporate campuses.

Texas-based supermajor ExxonMobil is in the process of constructing a 385-acre campus just north of Houston. A self-contained corporate city designed by Pickard Chilton and Gensler, the development consists of 20 buildings structured around three-acres of open space, which, according to The Lamp—the company’s shareholder publication—is “modeled after the great public squares found in Europe and the United States.” It will include a modern meeting and training facility called The Energy Center—a 10,000-ton cube floating over an outdoor plaza and reflecting pool—as well as a workout facility and daycare center. ExxonMobil anticipates that its employees will be able to move into the new offices by mid 2015.

Phillips 66, HOK.
Courtesy HOK
 

In the Westchase neighborhood of the city, Phillips 66 is embarking on a 14.2-acre, multi-building campus designed by HOK. Since spinning off from ConocoPhillips in 2012, the company has been spread throughout several facilities and seeking to consolidate its space. The new development, right off of Beltway 8, will provide a central location for all its employees, and include a fitness center, coffee shop, and conference center among other amenities. The project is scheduled to break ground at the end of this year.

“We searched for several months for the right site to build a headquarters campus where our extraordinary employees and future employees can come together to work and develop their skills and talents,” said Greg Garland, chairman and CEO of Phillips 66, in a statement.

 
ConocoPhillips, Kirksey Architecture (left). Chevron, HOK, currently on hold (right).
Courtesy Kirksy Architecture; HOK
 

HOK has also been tapped by Chevron to design a 50-story building in downtown Houston just a stone’s throw from its two existing towers. Though that project has now been put on hold while the company focuses its resources elsewhere, the initial plan by HOK would turn the three buildings into an “urban campus,” offering a series of indoor and outdoor common areas, restaurants, a fitness center, a training and conference space, and parking. The oil giant, which expects its employee presence in Houston to continue to grow, will revisit the plan after 2014.

ConocoPhillips has signed on to move its offices into two new towers in the heart of the Energy Corridor. Construction is underway on the first building, dubbed Energy Center Three, a 20-story glass and concrete structure designed by Houston-based firm Kirksey Architecture. The second office tower, rising up to 22-stories, is set to break ground later this year.

Southwestern Energy Company, Gensler.
Courtesy Gensler
 

South of The Woodlands, in Springwoods Village, Southwestern Energy Company has commenced work on a sprawling, 25.6-acre mixed-use campus. The company has enlisted the help of Gensler to design the facility and to consult on sustainability issues. The development is slated to wrap up construction by late 2014.

The 31-story “Hackett Tower” will be the latest addition to the Anadarko Petroleum Corp’s headquarters in The Woodlands. Named after current CEO James T. Hackett, the 550,000-square-foot building will rise next to the existing Allison Tower. The new facility will be finished by early next year. “We needed more room to accommodate our business’ growth, and Hackett Tower is an exceptionally designed facility with great amenities,” said Brian Cain, spokesman for Anadarko.

Noble Energy recently cut the ribbon on Energy Center One, a 10-story office building near Tomball, and now the company is gearing up for the next stage of its corporate headquarters: a 20-story office tower called Energy Center Two, designed by Kirksey Architecture. The new facility, scheduled for completion by mid 2015, will feature an eight-story parking garage and “Town Hall” for corporate meetings. A glass sky bridge will connect the two buildings.

Nicole Anderson