Monday, May 08, 2017

Exclusive: American Airlines details plans for 1.8M SF campus in Fort Worth


Airline giant American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) has brought in a development team to begin construction on a new 1.8 million-square-foot headquarters on its nearly 300-acre corporate campus in Fort Worth.

Construction has begun on the tract west of Texas State Highway 360 between Highway 183 and Trinity Boulevard for a new five-building corporate campus — which will be named after retired chairman and CEO Robert L. Crandall — on the airline-leased acreage in Fort Worth.
The additional buildings will sit on a site that was cleared by American Airlinesto make way for a master-planned campus that will take the airline into the next century. The tract once housed American's original Fort Worth headquarters, which opened in 1983, after the airline moved its headquarters to Texas from New York.

"In a sense, we are returning to our roots," Tim Skipworth, American's vice president of airport affairs and facilities, told the Dallas Business Journal in an exclusive interview.

"We are bringing all of our people together on one campus so our management employees will be much closer to our employees on the frontline," Skipworth said. "When you have people spread out throughout the world, it helps to bring them together in a single location. This is the heart of our airline."

Skipworth, who has worked at American Airlines for nearly 21 years, said the Fort Worth-based airline will have enough room on its campus to house up to 11,000 employees upon completion of the five-building, 1.8 million-square-foot addition.

The campus will also be enhanced to better serve the airline's employees throughout the globe that come to Fort Worth for training.

Each year, more than 75,000 employees from American Airlines use the campus to attend training at the flight academy and training and conference center. That includes 15,000 pilots and 26,000 flight attendants, as well as 13,000 customer service agents.

"Throughout the design process, we had both one campus and one team in mind with connection and collaboration at the forefront of our mind," Skipworth told me. "We don't want to just enable our different work groups, but encourage them to work together as one team."

Upon completion of the project, American Airlines plans to relocate 7,300 employees from four locations throughout North Texas to the campus.
American Airlines brought in Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Holdings LLC, who is working with legendary architect Cesar Pelli through his firm, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects.

This is the same team behind the recently completed McKinney and Olive office tower in Uptown that rapidly filled up with office tenants.

"We wanted to put together a world class team to help us do a really good job on this campus that is being reimagined to better connect our employees to each other," Skipworth told me. "We don't build a headquarters and we don't build a campus master plan very often, and we needed to knock it out. The team has done a wonderful job so far."

Crescent Real Estate Holdings Chairman and CEO John Goff said his development firm was looking for a first-class development to play a role in and found it with American Airlines' campus.

“We think they will have a very innovative design,” Goff said. “We are not going to win the quantity contest, but we do want to win the quality contest.”

Joseph Pitchford, the managing director of Crescent Real Estate, who is overseeing the project said American Airlines has been a dream client.

"American’s vision of an interactive and creative new workplace for its entire team is very powerful," Pitchford said. "For Crescent, it is an honor to help the world’s largest airline achieve a campus environment that will unite American’s global workforce and better support its corporate culture.”

Houston-based Kendall/Heaton Associates Inc. is the architect of record on the campus project. The Office of James Burnett of Houston is the landscape architect on the project. Gensler is the interior design architect.

CBRE was the broker representing American Airlines on the project. Dallas-based Austin Commercial is the general contractor on four of the five new buildings on the campus. Holder Construction is the general contractor on the fifth office building.

The campus expansion also includes a fitness and wellness center that will be available to all of American Airlines employees. Skipworth said he expects construction could be completed on the center at the same time as the five office buildings.

Construction on the new campus is slated for completion by summer 2019. American Airlines plans to achieve LEED Gold certification with the campus.
Along with the office buildings and a wellness center, American Airlines will also develop five parking garages and renovate the existing facilities on the campus over the next five years.

Those buildings include the airline's flight academy, the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center, the Dallas-Fort Worth reservations center, the training and conference center, and the C.R. Smith Museum.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas Business Journal.