Dallas Morning News: Perots’ new Dallas campus brings family business and history together on Turtle Creek
by STEVE BROWN
Real Estate Editor
Walking through the Perots’ new offices on Turtle Creek, you never forget where you are.
Hundreds of historical photos chronicle the history of the Dallas family that built businesses housed in the modern building.
Acres of glass windows and large open spaces give unobstructed views of the creekside park, the Oak Lawn neighborhood and Uptown Dallas’ growing skyline.
The three-story corporate enclave is surrounded by trees and wedged between Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail.
“We wanted to take advantage of the natural beauty,” said developer Ross Perot Jr. “We wanted the building to be nestled in the site and have a low profile and a low impact.”
Designed by Seattle-based architect Mithun and BOKA Powell of Dallas, the 170,000-square-foot project is a blend of modern architecture and native landscaping.
“The reason we were drawn to Mithun is because they really seem attuned to the natural beauty of the site and came up with such an interesting concept,” said Nancy Perot, who, with her brother gave a tour of the family’s new work space just north of Uptown.
Mithun, designer Emily Summers and BOKA Powell did the airy, bright interior spaces.
About 250 Perot company employees and family members just relocated to the new low-slung stone and wood building from multiple locations across the Dallas area.
“This is the first time in 25 years we’ve had all our companies together,” Ross said. “All my sisters are here. My dad [H. Ross Perot] is here every day.
“We have three grandkids in the building and will have two more this summer. It’s really designed to be a true family headquarters, with all the different businesses we are involved in under one roof.”
The Perots’ real estate firm, Hillwood, along with their energy business, investment operations, airplane leasing division, family foundations and other ventures share the space.
Rather than line the walls with modern art or old masters, the Perots have hung hundreds of antique family photos, shots of real estate groundbreakings and photographs of significant businesses holdings throughout the campus.
A black and white picture of H. Ross Perot’s father’s original family business in East Texas is in a prominent spot. “That’s our granddad — a cotton broker in Texarkana,” Ross said.
The ground floor of the campus includes a conference center, a café and lounge area, and food service.
H. Ross Perot’s private office and a family museum with decades of collected memorabilia fill one wing. A broad wooden central stairway connects all floors of the building.
“We have our version of Main Street — the square in the middle of the building,” Ross said. “We have the stairs — we want everybody to walk.
“Anything we can do to keep our team healthy is good for us. If you want an elevator, you can have it.”
But the mechanical lift is hidden away in an alcove that’s easy to overlook.
The gym on the south side of the building faces the Katy Trail and has an outdoor area. There’s a gate and private stairs connecting to the popular pedestrian and bike trail.
“We’ve already had to order more spin cycles,” Perot said.
Most of the newest office environments opening in Dallas and other major markets are cramming workers together in the name of teamwork and collaboration. But the Perot family complex lets its residents have room to spread out and roam.
“The trend in office space is to get more and more people in less space,” Ross said. “We are opposite of that trend here.
“We let our teams pick their work environment. We are here to maximize productivity. You are allowed to have the work style you want.”
The Perots interviewed dozens of architects and visited new office campuses across the world before launching work on their headquarters two and a half years ago.
“The West Coast architects had, I thought, the leading-edge philosophy on corporate campuses, with the natural light, fresh air and sustainability,” Ross said.
“The high-tech firms pushed them in that direction.”
Nancy Perot said that getting all of the family and their widely varied businesses in one place is changing they way they interact.
“A wonderful aspect is you get to see people in the hallways we used to just communicate with by email or phone,” she said. “That is a really important part — the easy collaboration between the divisions.”
As the company grows, the Perot family’s Hillwood real estate company has a large development site across the street to build on.
And behind the new buildings on Carlisle Street, Hillwood has bought two office buildings for future construction. “We have the rights for another 400,000 square feet over there with a connection between the buildings,” Ross said.
In the meantime, the Perots are celebrating what they’ve already built.
“We wanted a building that was timeless,” Ross said. “Everyone told me not to cut any corners.
“We wanted a building that was fully amenitized that could give our team a great work environment they could be very proud of.”