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September 21st, 2011 - Kelley Chambers

Devon celebrates topping out tower

The Devon tower finally looks like the Devon tower. While still several months from completion, the steel frame of the building is in place – all the way to the top. Windows climb more than three-fourths of the way up the tower.

John Wood Gavin Kalley Larry Nichols83
On Sept. 21, Devon officials joined with construction workers who are building the Devon Energy Center for a topping-out ceremony. The ceremonial final steel beam and a small tree were hoisted up to the top of the 50-story structure by one of the large cranes that have been a fixture on the skyline for more than a year.

Standing on the 10th floor of the company’s parking garage in the shadow of the tower, Executive Chairman Larry Nichols thanked the 1,200 workers who have braved Oklahoma’s extreme heat and cold since 2009 to make the tower and adjoining buildings a reality.

“On behalf of all the Devon employees, we really want to thank you for your dedication and your hard work in making this project happen,” he said. “It has gone up so fast that we can hardly believe it.”

Nichols did not talk specific numbers, but said the project – touted as a $750 million project – is looking to come in a bit under budget.

He founded the company alongside his father in 1971. The company’s 1,200 Oklahoma City employees are spread among five downtown buildings. Those employees will begin occupying the new buildings in March, and will be completely moved in by June. The campus includes the tower and an adjoining office building connected by a glass rotunda. An auditorium sits on at the intersection of Sheridan and Hudson avenues. The complex also connects to the neighboring Colcord Hotel, which Devon owns.

Nichols said it is gratifying to go from architectural renderings and models to standing below, looking up at the actual tower.

“It’s hugely exciting to see all those plans come to fruition,” he said.

John Wood, project manager with Hines Development, touted the team effort to make the project happen.

“Building a project this large and this complex and getting it done within two years of groundbreaking is fantastic,” he said.

Despite talking about the mostly unblemished safety record on the site, two incidents did draw attention to the project. In March 2010, a crane tipped over, although no one was injured. In April of this year, two base jumpers sneaked into the tower and parachuted off the top. Neither was injured.

Employees will occupy the building next year, although construction will continue. Devon officials estimate construction work will be complete by October 2012, and the project will officially wrap up in the first quarter of 2013. Outside of the buildings, landscaping will soon begin, and is set for completion next year. That project will include planting about 150 trees, and a two-acre park will be designed to include stone benches, water features and granite rocks.

Nichols said he always had confidence in the team selected to complete the project, and every question and concern he had was immediately addressed. Those involved include Pickard Chilton Architects, Hines, the joint venture of Holder Flintco, and others.

“We worked hard to select them, and then we got out of the way,” Nichols said.

Photo by Shannon Cornman

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