Welcome to the Land of ExxonMobil: A Tour of the Company’s New North Houston Campus

That floating central portion of the new gateway “Energy Center” planned for the entrance to ExxonMobil’s just-acknowledged new office campus in Spring only looks like it’s touching down after an outer-space tour of possible new energy sources. Or is the structure’s “Look, Ma, no feet” stance meant to communicate the company’s attitude toward whatever stuff might be lurking on the ground — or below it? The welcome center, which will include a reception area, training and conference facilities, and a formal restaurant, “has been designed to represent the ExxonMobil brand for the long term,” an internal company memo declares. Well, hello up there!

The campus was planned and designed by New Haven architects Pickard Chilton, with local firms PDR and the Houston office of Gensler. Hargreaves Associates created the landscape plan. More images of buildings now under construction by Gilbane and Harvey on the company’s 385-acre campus near the intersection of I-45, the Hardy Toll Rd., and the likely path of the future Grand Parkway loop road:

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Here’s the central quad:

And here’s a pretty view of the east promenade, between a couple of the planned office buildings:

A dining room:

The campus’s 27,000-sq.-ft. child care center on Springwoods Village Parkway, scheduled to open in late 2014, will take care of kids from 6 weeks through pre-K:

Meanwhile, the group fitness programs including pilates and yoga, the spin studio, cardio and strength-training equipment, locker rooms, and gym activities the company is famous for will be housed in this 100,000-sq.-ft. wellness center, scheduled to open early the following year:

Postponed until 2012, according to sources: Any decision about whether farflung employees at ExxonMobil’s Fairfax, chemical films, U.S. production, and Brookhollow facilities will be transferred to this new Houston hub. Employees at XOM’s corporate headquarters in Irving, the company’s XTO Energy subsidiary in Fort Worth, and its Clinton and Paulsboro facilities in New Jersey will not be moving to Houston, the company says.

Images: ExxonMobil

40 Comment

  • It’s the new millenium version of Compaq’s campus cira. 1998 sans the secrecy and in a better location.

  • Wow; it is beautiful! I would like walking into a building like that every morning.

  • Honestly, that looks pretty fantastic.

  • What’s with building this thing and keeping the headquarters in Dallas? Could it be part of the merger agreement that the hq would remain in Dallas for x number of years?

    If that’s not the case, then the consolidation of all these Houston folks just seems silly. Oh, and as an XOM shareholder I’d prefer it if this didn’t get built and the $$ instead got rolled into my next dividend payment.

  • And I thought the cluster of moose at Anadarko tower was pretty! This is unbelievable. Very exciting.

  • And with Exxon at $4.09 a gallon, they can take their fancy HQ and stuff it …

  • ExxonMobil doesn’t own or operate Exxon or Mobil gas stations.

  • Amazing what you can buy when you don’t pay ANY corporate taxes and get government cheese to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars a year. Let them eat cake!

  • hmm yeah – I’d like to work there!
    It’s hard to hate the O&G company when so envious of it

  • Yeah hdtex, it sure is amazing what you can say when you don’t check your facts, too!

  • ExxonMobil actually paid more in US taxes in the first quarter then they earned in the US. Numbers are up on their public blog. Yes, it’s a biased source, but if they are lying you better believe people will call them on it.

  • @hdtex, what makes you think XOM doesn’t pay corporate taxes? They do. They also get refunds from the IRS sometimes that exceed a given year’s obligation, which results in a negative amount on the financials for taxes. Get over it. The cheese you refer to are deductions and credits available to all companies that qualify.

    @Chris, according to the 2010 10K, XOM owns 1200 stations in the US. Profits from those stations are not that large – the profit is in producing oil.

  • @DumbDuckGoose

    Do you know how much of that cost per gallon is local, state and federal taxes? Do you know what the profit margin is on that gallon of gas? Do you have a clue as to what it takes to find and develop that gas?

    I bet you you have no problem paying $5 or more for a 12 oz beer at a bar or restaurant. What would that cost you per gallon?!?

    @hdtex – do you have the same hatred for Apple? They make a staggering profit each quarter and have very little risk in creating their product and charge waaaaaaay more than the competition. Do you post non-factual comments about them as well?

  • Very exciting to see a company that pays billions in taxes and collects even more for the federal government through our state and federal gas taxes consolidating their operations in Houston. We could have been witnessing a mass-exodus out of the city of Houston but instead we will witness an economic impact for years to come as XOM employees from across the country are relocated to our area. Oil companies pay far more in taxes than most large corporations and I am very glad to see the economic impact being brought to our area. Go XOM!

  • Its awesome, but I thought the era of building suburban office campuses was close to gone. Not anymore, I guess. Just goes to show that there is still plenty a land for Houston to sprawl, and this illustrates no signs of slowing down. God that third outerbelt is just going to catalyze more of this crap(albeit ExxonMobil’s campus is pretty crap).

    I mean, if ExxonMobil really wanted to, they could’ve revitilized an entire swath of area in one of many industrial parts of Houston. No, but instead of utilizing an area that could be purposeful, they chose to destroy the environment. Yeah, Houston’s forests in the north are what keeps the area looking bad, but just a few more decades of this, and there will be nothing left to conceal this disgusting sprawl.

  • @Reality Check
    I think your reference to “develop” might mean “refine and distribute” but that’s just a guess. And, yes, I am aware of the components of the price of a gallon of gas vs a gallon of St Arnolds.

    If ExxonMobil is spending millions to build a monument to themselves, that’s money that they’ve decided not to spend on lowering the costs for their customers.

    You’re assuming I have ‘no problem’ paying $5 for a glass of beer — you’re wrong. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t … but I always have to buy gas to get to and from work. There’s a difference between spending money on the basics (gas) vs recreational (St Arnolds).

    @Chris
    True ‘ExxonMobil’ may not directly own stations but they sell ExxonMobil gasoline and license the appropriate names to the station owners. There is a financial relationship.

    Best regards -

  • Actually, since ExxonMobile is already paying millions a year in rent, the fact that they are building facilities to own/use it would probably LOWER their expenses and increase their revenue!

  • How awesome is that.. A real asset to our community!

  • And not to mention all the jobs this will create. 8000 people is a small town. ExxonMobil contracts a lot of the services, like mail and reproduction. The wellness center will need a full staff and probably nutritionist. The multiple cafes and the conference center restaurant will need full staff. Full housekeeping staff. That much land will require a full landscaping crew with arborist. The management company that maintains the buldings will have a full staff of AC/electricians/plumbers. FedEx would need a full-time office. This doesn’t affect just the employees. XOM might need their own zipcode with the mail they will receive at that one site.

  • XOM has said clearly that they are NOT relocating offices from elsewhere in the country. This is a consolidated campus for Houston. Of course they denied that they were even building this so they may be lying about not relocating folks here as well.

    I just can’t see lauding them for being a great corporate citizen for buliding a campus that just adds to the ugly sprawl along 45. This is a deck reshuffle and not a new deck of cards for Houston. XOM isn’t exactly being a great corporate citizen when they could have chosen a site that would have been good for them and good for the city. Maybe on a transit line?

  • charlie – the article doesn’t say they are not moving people from other areas of the country. It says they have not decided. I have personally seen internal memos that tell their employees they are consolidating Houston campuses before they consider moving other offices around the country to this campus and that it would be 2015 before that would happen. I don’t think it is a stretch to read into this that they will be moving other areas of the country to this campus. As a Realtor I can tell you that people from their Fairfax campus have already begun buying homes in The Woodlands… somebody is pretty confident of being moved if they are doing that. I’m guessing they’re trying to avoid employees in those areas leaving (rather than move) before XOM is ready for them to.

  • @charlie It’s a bit strong to say that ExxonMobil “denied” building this campus. Yes, they have been very secretive even with their own employees, but they never out and out said they weren’t doing it either. My understanding is that they company has had similiar situations in the past (they were considering builing a campus in Conroe in the 80s) and an office tower in Midland, TX in the 70s where employees actually went so far as to buy property near the new offices… and then those deals fell through and employees felt lied to. I think ExxonMobil was trying to keep it under wraps to avoid that situation as much as anything.

  • There are precedents for corporation executive to be in one city and the operations in another, but it will be determined by various factors other than precedence. Executives typically deal only with finances because they are capital heavy. Where are the banks and financial centers? That leads to somewhere other than Houston. Operations in the Houston area is a fit though. It is oil service central and has been forever.

  • @Duckduckgoose

    XOM will be able to reduce headcount and operating costs by consolidating campuses – no more rent and combining multiple campuses will reduce headcount for support services – IT, building services, etc at the very minimum. Will also reduce expenses for employee travel, especially if the Fairfax office is relocated.

  • We think this might turn into a competitive disadvantage for Exxon – http://www.thesquarefoot.com/houston/exxons-move-to-woodlands-space

  • @Aron… I follow your reasoning but I came to the exact opposite conclusion. Sure, young professionals living in the city would probably have a much shorter commute to a downtown location, but commuting to the Woodlands means that they are going the opposite direction of traffic which isn’t really a bad commute and when those employees are ready to settle down… the can buy in the Spring/Woodlands area (or along the grand pkwy) and still have a short commute. When I was a new hire… I wanted a short commute so I had an apartment in Greenspoint (where my office was at the time). The new location seams like a much better deal vs. their status quo. Also because ExxonMobil has so many different offices (Greenspoint, Greenway Plaza, Downtown, Energy Corridor, etc.) employees today have to content with being moved around. I’ve had friends buy property in Conroe because their early career only ever had them driving to Greenspoint… a year later they are now commuting from Conroe to Greenway Plaza. This location is a huge win for new hires that want a house in the suburbs and it’s not a bad trade off for young urbanites that want to live in the city.

  • QUICK! built us some light rail!

  • I don’t think the commute to the burbs from in town will be a major issue for new/young hires. ExxonMobil Baytown campus hires a ton of new hires out of college each year and many of them choose to live in town. They drive opposite traffic.

  • What a great plan. It seems to make sense is so many different stratas. Good Luck!

  • In regard to the comment on federal taxes… I have seen Democrats saying that major oil companies do not pay taxes in Facebook for the last year.It is a ridiculous misunderstanding of finances and how to read the annual reports. Politics out of Democrat supporters cause the spread of these silly rumors. This is not the only issue being generated by false assumptions in Democrat political circles. In general, Americans are smarter than these people realize. Anyway, a major company like ExxonMobil needs top people in a very competitive market. What better way to attract them than provide a die-for location to work? Second, the message for sustainable energy is really needed from those who provide energy. I commend the company in this pursuit and hope they save many trees and natural forest in the process.

  • I am a current college student at SFASU looking to graduate May of 2013 with a BBA in Management and a minor of Child Development and Family Living. I cannot wait to put in my application for the child care center at this new facility!

  • Paige, it’s for employees of exxonmobil.

  • this makes me want to join the bestest most awesomest greenest oil company in the worlds

  • Exxon and Mobil are now exploring the division of the two brands, that is why we are seeing development of a headquarters here while no plans to close Mobil in Dallas…. After years of profits the company has begun to realize without further investment in the communities it will become the largest worthless company since it is consumers, employees and cities that provide the profit and uphold the value of any stock/company.

  • further evidence of the brands intention to go back to two brands can be seen in the relaunch of both brand mascots on their gas cards….the Exxon Tiger and the Mobil Pegasus Other notable oil giants that merged in the 1990′s are alo now seeing the value of the multi brand system we have seen grocery company giants use for years….many things have been learned with the overwhelming continued success of Procter and Gamble’s stewardship of multi-brands and the oil companies are finally taking notice

    Another giant that once ruled American gas stations as well as Hollywood is Texaco or The Texas Company as it was originally known……Chevron has never managed to garner the respect or brand loyalty the Texaco once had and they too are now rumored to be exploring the aggressive relaunch of Texaco as a brand within the larger company

  • @ Charles: I am intrigued but skeptical. Do you have the inside scoop, or is this just speculation?

  • Not even sure what this conversation means. Exxon and Mobil have always been different brands. ExxonMobil divested its service stations but still licenses both brands.

    If you are saying they are breaking into 2 companies, that is incorrect. First, the industry model recently has been to break into upstream and downstream (not spinning off brands) but it is clear XOM is not doing that either.

    Finally, “Mobil” is not in Dallas as Charles said. Exxon build a Dallas HQ many years ago. Mobil was HQ in Virginia prior to the 1999 merger. THe Dallas HQ building has senior execs and some service functions like Controllers, Govt affairs, and Law. It is staying in Dallas bc the company has always thought having senior execs somewhat separate encouraged leadership down the chain among other things. The new HQ simply consolidates all professional (non-site) employees in one campus to increase collaboration and save a lot of money on domestic relocations.
    In short, it makes no real sense to say the company is spinning off the Mobil brand. BOth the Exxon brand and the Mobil brand from a consumer perspective are downstream brands and neither has a big impact on the company’s bottom line.

  • @MAC… I think Paige is saying she wants to work at the Child Development Center, not send her kids there.

  • I would love to work for the company. This new project is fantastic.

  • That is the most interesting campus built this centry, with all the natural resourses around.