Technology Brings Oklahoma-Based Devon Energy's Design Plans to Life

Article excerpt

When Larry Nichols sets foot in the new Devon Tower for the first time three years from now, John Wood, vice president and project officer with real estate firm Hines, wants it to feel like home.

A decade ago, Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy Corp., would likely have sifted through volumes of blueprints for the company's future world headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City. But with the use of Building Information Modeling software applications, Devon officials can see 3-D views of the campus, as well as take virtual tours, all before the first drop of concrete has been poured at the site.

Klay Kimker, president of Devon Realty Advisors Inc., compared the process to the old tailor's adage about measuring twice and cutting once when making handmade garments. Technology has served as that precise measurement, so Devon officials can rest assured the building promised is the building delivered. And with an initial budget nearing $800 million and a completion date of 2012, Devon isn't taking any chances.

"Things are not done with pen and paper so much anymore," Kimker said. "These designs, and particularly, the uniqueness of the building and the structure require a great deal of technology to come together and determine if they can be built."

The BIM allows for numerous 3-D models of the proposed buildings to be created and seamlessly merged on computer screens to anticipate any flaws in the design that might occur, so developers can tweak elements as they see fit. The architects and developers also are taking it one step further by using new technology that can create physical scale models in a few hours. That process used to take weeks or months.

Devon officials wowed a group of business leaders and city officials in August 2008 when plans for the headquarters were revealed, complete with a model of the campus and the gleaming 54- story skyscraper. …