Devon Energy Center in Oklahoma City sets a shining example for investing locally. Founded in 1971, Devon Energy, an independent oil and natural-gas exploration and production company, quickly grew to over 2,000 employees who were spread out across five different aging buildings downtown. The company needed to consolidate. But rather than relocating, management insisted on staying in Oklahoma and building from the ground up. “We could see in future years the city was going to be great,” says Klaholt Kimker, the company’s vice president of administration.
The company’s new headquarters, by New Haven'based architects Pickard Chilton, is defined by a 50-story tower, surrounded by several low-rise components, that has quickly solidified the Devon brand and become an emblem of the prairie town’s recent renaissance. But creating a complex that would include the city’s tallest building was not the initial goal of Devon executive chairman Larry Nichols, notes principal Jon Pickard. “By following the logic of meeting Devon’s business needs, we were able to create something that was compelling and could in fact become a key symbol for Oklahoma City, and it turned out to be a 50-story tower,” he says. Recruiters cite the building—a poster child for density and targeted for LEED Gold—as a major factor for attracting talent, with applications up by 40 percent.