When you’ve known and worked with a man since 1987, a little good-natured ribbing is in order. Upon receiving the 2011 Outstanding Development award May 11 for the Chesapeake Energy campus and surrounding projects, CEO Aubrey McClendon poked fun at the wardrobe of his favorite architect.
While McClendon said it is not unusual for him to make sartorial missteps, and show up to work in outfits that don’t match, Rand Elliott can always be found in predictable attire.
“He doesn’t have to ever worry about that,” McClendon said, pointing to Elliott’s signature black and white ensemble.
McClendon and Elliott accepted the award in recognition of the sprawling Chesapeake campus, and adjacent Classen Curve and Triangle shopping developments, including the Whole Foods Market in the works.
It was the fourth time the award has been presented by Mayor Mick Cornett. The first year it went to the Skirvin Hilton, the second year to Presbyterian Health Foundation, and last year was awarded to the Bricktown Association and Bricktown property owners.
Cornett took about 450 attendees of the Mayor’s Development Roundtable back to the late 1980s when Chesapeake was housed in a modest, 6,000-square-foot office park at the southeast corner of NW 63 and N Western Avenue.
“Remember when Chesapeake looked like that,” Cornett said pointing to an early rendering of the corporate campus.
A few things have changed since then.
“Twenty-two years ago, Aubrey McClendon chose that spot for the headquarters of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and today, if you drive by it kind of looks like an entire city has grown up around that one intersection,” Cornett said.
The company was in its modest digs until 1998. In the last decade, the campus has grown to three million square feet of office space, parking garages, restaurants and fitness facilities. Each day, 4,000 employees go to work at the Oklahoma City offices of Chesapeake. Between 2000 and 2011, the company constructed 13 buildings, and is moving east across Classen Boulevard with plans for more office space, parking structures, and a child care center. A three-level underground parking complex is in the works along Western Avenue that will be topped with an athletic field.
“They have not had a construction break on campus in more than 10 years,” Cornett said.
McClendon said he was grateful to Chesapeake co-founder Tom Ward – now CEO of SandRidge Energy – who always let him dream big when it came to architecture and additional buildings.
“Never once did he say no to a building project,” McClendon said. “He had reason to on many occasions, but he never did, and I appreciate that.”