TIAA-CREF, Transwestern to Develop 600 KSF Class AA Office Tower in Houston

TIAA-CREF and Transwestern began construction this week on a 30-story Class AA office tower in Houston’s Galleria submarket that will house BHP Billiton’s growing petroleum business being fueled by its U.S. shale operation.

BHP Billiton Tower Houston

TIAA-CREF and Transwestern began construction this week on a 30-story Class AA office tower in Houston’s Galleria submarket that will house BHP Billiton’s growing petroleum business being fueled by its U.S. shale operation.

The 600,000-square-foot building is being developed on a 2.72-acre tract within the Four Oaks Place office complex leased and managed by Transwestern. The new tower will have frontage on Post Oak Boulevard and a glass skybridge connecting it to BHP Billiton’s other Four Oaks Place building at 1360 Post Oak Boulevard. It will have 23 office floors, including reception, and nine garage floors, seven of which will be above ground.

Once completed in late 2016, the new tower will boost Four Oaks Place to approximately 2.3 million square feet of office space. In addition to the current BHP Billiton building, Four Oaks Place includes Wells Fargo Tower, 1330 Post Oak Boulevard and 1400 Post Oak Boulevard.

“We believe it will have a long-term positive impact on BHP Billiton, the Four Oaks complex and the Uptown Houston skyline,” Carleton Riser, Transwestern’s managing director of development, said in a news release from Transwestern and TIAA-CREF.

BHP Billiton, a major global natural resources company, will be leasing the building from owner TIAA-CREF. The firm said the tower was being “custom-made” to suit the business needs of its petroleum division.

“BHP Billiton is the largest foreign investor in U.S. shale, and we see our shale operations as our growth engine for the foreseeable future,” Tim Cutt, president of Petroleum and Potash for BHP Billiton, said in a release from his firm.

Noting that the company added 700 employees last year and planned to add hundreds more in the future, Cutt said the firm needed “world-class facilities” to attract and retain the best people in the industry. When completed, the company expects to consolidate employees that are currently located at buildings in Four Oaks Place, downtown Houston and Tulsa, Okla., into the new two-building campus. The firm expects to house approximately 2,000 workers between the two buildings.

The cost of development was not released. The tower is being designed by Pickard Chilton Associates of New Haven, Conn., and the architect of record is Kendall Heaton Associates of Houston.

“The new tower, like the other buildings in Four Oaks Place, will incorporate the latest in green building practices,” Brad Simpkins, TIAA-CREF senior director, asset management, said in a prepared statement. “BHP appreciated these sustainability initiatives, the building’s downtown location and a building design focused on maximizing employee productivity and their investment.”

Designed to achieve LEED-Gold certification, the building will feature a green roof on level 8, floor-to-ceiling glass with exterior sunshades and under floor air distribution system. The skybridge will connect to 1360 Post Oak tower at level 2 and will be an extension of the company’s Discovery Café, offering additional seating and encouraging interactivity and collaborative meetings.

BHP Billiton said the location was ideal for creating the two-building campus. It’s located in the Uptown/Galleria district, the 15th largest office market in the United States, and will be visible from Interstate-610. It is also close to I-10, Highway 50 and Westpark Tollway.

The energy sector continues to boost Houston’s office market, according to a Second Quarter Research & Forecast Report by Colliers International. BHP is just one of several energy giants building new offices to handle growth. Chevron, Apache, ExxonMobile, Shell and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. are among the others creating about 9.9 million square feet of office space within the next two to three years, according to Colliers. With the help of $12 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, Chevron is building a 50-story, 1.7 million-square-foot office tower in downtown Houston at 1600 Louisiana St. It already owns two nearby high rises with 1.3 million square feet and 1.2 million square feet.