Modern Architecture: Devon Energy Center, Oklahoma City, United States

In Oklahoma City’s (not so “tall”) downtown, rises The Devon Energy Center (also known as Devon Tower), a 50-story skyscraper (270m) inaugurated in 2012 and home to the new headquarters of the Devon Energy Corporation (an independent manufacturer of oil and natural gas).

It is the tallest building in the city and ranks 65th in the ranking of the tallest buildings in North America. Over the years, it won numerous awards from the High Rise Architecture Award at the Americas Property Awards in 2012 (the first of the series) to the Merit Award at the AIA Connecticut in 2018. Designed by the Pickard Chilton architecture studio, famous all over the world for the construction of large corporate buildings such as headquarters, towers, hospitals/clinics, and academic centers. Their works are renowned for the orientation of their spaces towards people so that such spaces can be fully experienced and by those who pass by or work there. A 6-story rotunda with internal balconies serves as an entrance and a connecting node for the entire complex, within which we find offices, gyms, an auditorium, meeting rooms, event spaces and restaurants. The tower owes its three-sided structure to the fact that the Devon company did not want to “turn its back” on any part of the city; facing south, all the internal offices are characterized by glass windows up to the ceiling to optimize sunlight. The glass used guarantees maximum use of sunlight and at the same time is able to avoid overheating of the materials and consequently of the building itself; an example of technologically advanced and sustainable architecture. If the exterior stands out for its huge windows and metal structure, the interiors welcome visitors and workers in a warm, modern and timeless environment, always with an eye on sustainability. To give the structure a feeling that recalls nature, wooden elements (and other stone materials) were added to the use of marble for the cladding. Specifically, 4,500 m2 of polished Calacatta Caldia® marble (cut into 2 cm thick slabs) were used for the internal cladding and blocks with a radius of 30 meters were placed for the structure of the glass rotunda. Coming from Italy, Calacatta is a white marble with shaded veins ranging from green, to gray, to gold which makes it suitable for indoor (and / or partially outdoor) spaces to which it gives elegance and a minimal grandeur. The interiors are very spacious thanks to the very high ceilings, and the white of the Calacatta Caldia® marble combined with the large windows creates a very bright and airy environment, never gloomy, and made even more welcoming and warm by the use of wood. Marble is not the only protagonist in the internal claddings of the common areas of the Devon Energy Center, in fact, on the 49th floor we find the Vast Restaurant where white marble together with illuminated acrylic walls, wooden panels and metal elements creates a unique environment where people can choose different types of seating from suspended ones to private rooms. The Devon Energy Center is, therefore, one of the examples of modern architecture where innovative materials meet classic materials such as marble and wood in a combination of technology and tradition that make these works masterpieces, even more, when the aesthetic taste meets sustainability in the choice and use of materials just like the Pickard Chilton studio did.


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