Richmond-based energy giant Dominion is developing a new headquarters in Downtown, scheduled for completion in 2019. New Haven, Connecticut based Pickard Chilton Architects is designing the project, with Kendall/Heaton Associates of Houston as architect of record.
On October 26th, William Chilton, a principal at Pickard Chilton, gave a lecture in Tokyo to the American Institute of Architects Japan Chapter. Chilton explained the origins and culture of his firm before profiling several of their recent projects.
Particular attention was given to the Devon Energy Center, a new skyscraper Pickard Chilton designed for an energy company in Oklahoma City. Devon Energy included public functions like retail and an auditorium in the program in an effort to help revitalize the city center. “There’s a sea change going on,” Chilton explained. ”Recently, our corporate clients have really shown a deep understanding of and appreciation for public space.”
In a question and answer session following the lecture, Chilton noted that Dominion initially questioned the idea of opening the ground floor of their new headquarters to the public. Richmonders may find this unsurprising, given the unfriendly street presence of their current tower at 701 East Cary. According to Chilton, a team of executives from Dominion visited Oklahoma City to see the Devon Energy Center. That trip was followed up with a visit by Dominion’s security team, who toured the Devon Center and learned how its staff control access to the offices above while welcoming the public at below. Both groups came away convinced that a similar approach could be used in Richmond. The design process is still underway, but Chilton mentioned that retail units will be incorporated into the tower’s podium with entrances on different building faces.
Perhaps due in part to the secretive nature of Dominion, limited information about the project has been made public. Indeed, Richmonders may have to wait until opening day to see if Pickard Chilton has made good on its plan to introduce a new and more vibrant model of corporate architecture to Downtown. For the sake of Richmond’s stuffy and sterile Financial District, let’s hope they have.
Rendering from a Richmond Bizsense article, May 13, 2016.
*Update: minor changes were made to original version of this article as a courtesy to Pickard Chilton Architects.