(Courtesy of Exxon Mobil)

(Courtesy of Exxon Mobil)

The new Exxon Mobil Corp. headquarters, rising on 385 acres (156 ha) north of downtown Houston, is one of the largest construction projects in the United States. The corporate campus will be composed of 20 low-rise buildings arranged around landscaped paths and quadrangles. It will consolidate in one place the energy company’s offices currently located in Houston, Virginia’s Fairfax County, and other locations to accommodate up to 10,000 employees who will begin occupying the campus early next year.

While not as eye-popping as Apple’s proposed doughnut-shaped headquarters in Cupertino, California, the Exxon Mobil structures are sleekly modernist, with a few dramatic touches befitting the world’s largest publicly traded energy producer. The gateway building, a meeting and training facility called the Energy Center, rises to a huge rectangular glass box hovering over a reflecting pool. Inside, visitors will be greeted by the word “welcome” written in 100 languages on the wall flanking a marble staircase

(Courtesy of Exxon Mobil)

(Courtesy of Exxon Mobil)

The New Haven, Connecticut, firm Pickard Chilton, which has also completed a Houston headquarters for petroleum giant ConocoPhillips, designed the glass-and-steel architecture of the campus to be environmentally responsible. Measures to conserve natural resources include the preservation of mature trees on the site.

About 80 percent of the campus will remain in its natural state or be planted with native species, according to a design by the San Francisco landscape architecture firm Hargreaves Associates. Water use will be reduced by 80 percent compared with a conventional development of similar size through recycling of rainwater and smart irrigation systems.

The energy company plans to monitor its power consumption. “We’ll be able to measure, plan, and control the energy use of every building and the campus as a whole,” project executive Jim Hennessy said in a recent issue of Exxon Mobil’s shareholder newsletter. Expansive glass walls will optimize daylight in the interiors to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. Employees will have personal control of workspace temperatures and illumination.

In designing the workplaces, Houston-based PDR studied more than 100 institutions to determine ways of creating flexible spaces for sharing ideas. Offices are arranged to be open and close to nature and staff amenities. Gensler was architect of record and interior architect for significant spaces across the campus.

Hargreaves, which helped plan the overall setting, noted in a press release that the campus design “will foster interaction and collaboration amongst employees in their daily work, as well as support their health and well-being.” Meeting areas include an outdoor plaza that can accommodate up to 3,500 people. A 100,000-square-foot (9,300 sq m) Wellness Center will have fitness facilities and a basketball court. The on-site child development center will be able to accommodate 300 kids in 19 classrooms for early-education programs tailored to the pre-kindergarten set. All buildings on the campus will be no more than a seven-minute walk from each other.

While the facility itself is primarily accessible by driving, it is part of Springwoods Village master-planned community, a new 1,800-acre mixed-use community.