New Galleria-Area Class AA Tower to be New Home of BHP Billiton

Construction began this week on a 30-story, Class AA office tower that will be the new U.S. home of multinational mining and petroleum giant BHP Billiton. The building is in the Houston Galleria submarket, and when it is finished in 2016, it will bring together employees from BHP Billiton’s current U.S. offices in downtown Houston, Four Oaks Place near the Houston Galleria, and the Tulsa, Oklahoma facility. A glass skywalk will connect the facility to an existing BHP Billiton building at Four Oaks Place.

The building, which is being constructed by to LEED-Gold standards by Transwestern on a 2.72-acre tract within the Four Oaks Place office complex, will offer 600,000 square feet of office space over 23 office floors. It will have nine floors of garage parking, two below ground and seven above.

BHP Billiton is the largest foreign company to invest in shale formations, and the company anticipates continued growth in that sector. The company, which is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, has about 1,800 employees in Houston, and will have close to 3,000 by the time the employees move into the new building, J. Michael Yeager, BHP Billiton’s chief executive officer, said in a press conference. BHP bought Petrohawk in 2011 for more than $12 billion, and is an active player in the Eagle Ford Shale, Yeager told the Barclay’s Capitol CEO Energy and Power Conference in September.

The designer of the new facility is Pickard Chilton Associates of New Haven, Conn., while Kendall Heaton Associates of Houston is the designing partner. The site is owned by financial services firm TIAA-CREF, the company that will lease the building to BHP Billiton.

The new office tower is more evidence of the boost that the energy sector is giving Houston’s office market. Several other energy companies, including Royal Dutch Shell plc, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Apache Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. have all announced or have started development on new buildings in or near the Houston metropolitan area.

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