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Today's Research And Production Facilities Are Built To Catch The Big Fish Of Oil And Gas

Baker Hughes, A GE Company — Western Hemisphere Education Center
Baker Hughes, A GE Company — Western Hemisphere Education Center

Houston-based Energy Architecture has noticed a new trend among its clients. Oil and gas companies are rebranding their research and production facilities to place their customers' needs first.

These businesses are willing to dedicate capital to such aspects of customer interaction as real-time product displays, training and conferencing, employee entertainment (including gaming systems and collaboration areas) and developing inviting, visually appealing properties with modern designs and high-end finishes.

"These clients are concerned less with overall costs and more with customer interaction, talent acquisition and employee retention," Energy Architecture principal Justin Hasbrouck said.

WHEC interior
WHEC Collaboration Lobby

Baker Hughes Western Hemisphere Education Center

Acquired as a General Electric company in July, Baker Hughes opened its Western Hemisphere Education Center (WHEC), consolidating its seven training and education facilities around the Western Hemisphere into one major property just north of Houston.

WHEC is a paragon of the trend toward property developments centered around the customer experience, a trend Energy Architecture has furthered with its years of experience in oil and gas development. The center offers three educational categories: hands-on electrical and mechanical instruction in specialized labs; traditional classroom learning; and on-the-ground training on oil wells and rigs.

Each of the three specializations is housed in its own section of the 100-acre campus. These include a 90K SF classroom complex complete with auditoriums, break rooms and a coffee bar, a 54K SF training workshop and 2K SF lab and a 215K SF building with two training oil rigs, 10 oil wells and smaller classroom buildings scattered throughout for field training.

The WHEC aims to offer educational opportunities for new and seasoned employees in North and Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Russia-Caspian and the Asia Pacific region. In keeping with its global scope, as many as 100 educators offer translated and bilingual classes, televideo conference teaching and small-team learning reflective of the team-oriented, collaborative nature of oil fields.

Flotek presentation space
Flotek Command Center

Flotek Global Research & Innovation Center

Houston-based oil chemistry solutions company Flotek Industries requested to extend a theater-style auditorium, called the Command Center, right in the middle of the corporation’s new research laboratory, literally and figuratively centering visitors and clients inside Flotek’s energy and chemical research in real time.

Physically contextualizing a business’s conceptual and applied research to the eye of the customer is key to many of Energy Architecture's clients' relationship-oriented strategies. The customer experience lies at the heart of this renovation, particularly since Flotek creates custom chemical solutions for its clients.

“With this new Center, we have created a space for collaboration, learning and research in a setting that provides an experience like never before,” Flotek Industries Chairman, President and CEO John Chisholm said in an interview with the Oil & Gas Financial Journal. “We believe it provides an important backdrop for how we build relationships with our clients. ... Ultimately, this is a space where ideas and partnerships come to flourish.”

The 50K SF facility, which opened April of last year, sits in Northwest Houston’s Sam Houston Business Park, double the size of Flotek's past corporate centers. Forty percent of the total square footage is dedicated to the auditorium-centered lab space.

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