Friday, April 07, 2017

New Perot campus sets tone for 1M SF family holdout along Dallas’ Katy Trail

As Ross Perot Jr. shows off his new family office building nestled between Turtle Creek Boulevard and the Katy Trail, he likes to underline this was a family feat.

"This is a Perot campus, it's not a Hillwood campus," said chairman of The Perot Cos. and chairman and CEO of Hillwood, a North Texas real estate firm.
"We toured a lot of family offices — including some family offices in Dallas — and we wanted to get it right," he said. "Harlan Crow and Ray Hunt told me, 'This is a project you don't want to squeeze the budget. You will be in this building for the rest of your business lives'."

The Perot family budgeted it into their targeted pro forma, which Perot assures me they met. However, he declined to disclose the development budget of the 5.5-acre Turtle Creek corporate estate.

The two, three-story, 170,000-square-foot building looks much like a bar bell with a three-story, 5,500-square-foot gathering space in the middle of the two buildings, called The Intersection.

Even though the Perot family could've built upwards of 1 million square feet on the 5.85-acre site owned since 2011, they, instead, designed on a horizontal design and only used roughly 20 percent of the site.

The family campus is the first of a much-larger urban campus planned for the Katy Trail-adjacent site, which is slated for three adjacent parcels.
"This is not the last building," said Perot, as he walked along the Katy Trail. "It's an urban campus with the Katy Trail running through the middle of it and Turtle Creek running through the middle of it."

In all, Perot said he could easily build 1 million square feet of office space on three parcels of land adjacent to the Perot family campus, including a high-profile site along Turtle Creek Boulevard being marketed by Hillwood Urban.
The other two tracts sit directly opposite and one property northward along the Katy Trail.

The Katy Trail adjacency helps The Perot Cos. recruit talented young employees that take the trail to work and Perot said he jokes he loses everyone to the Katy Trail Icehouse on a sunny Friday afternoon.

But the family office has its roots that go back decades.
The vision of the Perot family office has roots back Ross Perot Sr. building EDS' campus on top of a then-bankrupt golf course on Forest Lane in North Dallas.

Recreating history

It was the "first great tech campus," of its day with tennis courts, car repair service, a swimming pool and locker rooms — reminiscent of a country club, said his son.

When the family sold EDS in 1984 and later left the campus, the Perot family went their various ways until January, when they began moving into the new family office digs — complete with a museum showcasing the entrepreneurial family.
"It really has, so far, been successful," Perot said. "My dad loves it and he has everyone here. All five of his children are here, his three grandchildren and two more coming this summer.

"He's in the best possible environment for him," he added. "Every day he can hardly wait to go to work every day and be with his customers."

The 86-year-old entrepreneur is the curator for the family's epic museum, which sits on the first floor of the family office. The museum, which sits adjacent to Perot Sr.'s office, showcases his collection of over 6,000 items that continues to grow.

Typically, a national museum displays 3,000 objects, which is about half of Perot's collection, which includes everything from boyhood chaps to national awards and designations.

"It took 18 months to catalog everything and another 18 to organize, pack, move and reinstall," said Andy Anway, who oversaw the curation with Amaze Designs. "The team packed Perot's old Plano office on a Thursday and reinstalled it (in the new office) two days later."

Adding new designs

The Perot family took notes from the design of Pixar's campus in California by Steve Jobs, which "really moved the needle for us," in terms of design, Perot said.
"Steve wanted a building where no one could hide and if you came into the building, you'd see your colleagues," he added. "He designed it so everyone would walk through the same entrance."

The family hired Seattle-based Mithun Inc., in association with Dallas-based BOKA Powell, to design the campus to incorporate the natural setting along Turtle Creek resulting in a glass and limestone Class A office building.

Perot and his team spoke with the Center for Brain Health on the best working environment and found it was quite opposite the trend in real estate today.
"They came back to us and told us people want quiet and the open office is not efficient for most operations," he said. "It's trendy, but it's not efficient."

Perot gave his team the choice of work environment. For most, it seems, they like a quiet workspace. For others, like some of the traders, the open concept was preferred.

Emily Summers worked on the interior design with Mithun and the architect-of-record BOKA Powell.

Bringing it all together

Different Perot-affiliated firms and divisions are located throughout the three-story building, connected by a large staircase that leads down to The Intersection.
"The Perot family came to us with the idea of collision and collaboration using the word, 'intersection,' or that the whole is better than the sum of its parts," said Brendan Connolly, a partner at Mithun, who was the lead design architect on the project.

That helped guide the design behind the three-story atrium with the central food and conferencing center with the large staircase to connect the three floors, he said.

The Intersection includes a full cafeteria that serves breakfast and lunch with availability to take home dinner. Employees and guests can use the cafeteria that sits behind some barnyard doors marked with an 'X,' that has a story tied to generosity of Perot's grandmother during the Great Depression.

The family office has a state-of-the-art fitness center with an area to practice sprints and a conferencing center, which hosts numerous events for the Perot companies.

There is also an event lawn behind the office building, which sits atop a 100,000-gallon cistern that collects stormwater for landscape irrigation of native plants on the property.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas Business Journal.