The 1-million-square-foot high-rise development on North Central Expressway at Glenville Drive is one of the biggest office projects to open in North Texas in years. With the current building slowdown, the two Blue Cross buildings and their parking garage are likely to hang on to their top project status for some time.
"This is the largest project we have ever done in a single phase," said Steve Van Amburgh, chief executive of developer KDC. That's saying a lot. KDC has built huge North Texas facilities for companies including Citigroup, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Fluor Corp.
Construction began on the Blue Cross buildings in October 2007. The state-of-the-art office complex will replace five locations now leased by the insurance company. Dallas architect Corgan Associates and Chicago-based ZPD+A designed the 15-story and 7-story buildings. McCarthy was the general contractor. Along with standard offices, the sleek buildings have a 440-seat auditorium, a 19,350-square-foot dining facility called Cafe Bleu and a large conference center. Outside are courtyards, walking trails and a dining terrace.
The public areas have a nature theme, with stone fossil tiles in the floors, bamboo ceilings and limestone walls.
The reception desk is topped with giant mesquite slabs. "It's a very positive work environment," Van Amburgh said. "It's not too fancy – they had a very strict budget, which we adhered to." Blue Cross had its headquarters in a former department store on Spring Valley Road that it had added onto for almost 30 years, said spokeswoman Margaret Jarvis. "Before that, we were in downtown Dallas," said Jarvis. The new Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas headquarters complex includes the Cafe Bleu where employees can dine. "This is the first time we've had a building like that that was specifically designed for us," she said. "We are expecting cost savings from having a more efficient building." And unlike with its previous location, Blue Cross has enough room on the 34-acre campus to add buildings.
"The site has room to grow to almost double the complex," Van Amburgh said. "We can put roughly 2 million square feet on that site if we wanted to." As it is, the development is so large that it will take almost two months to settle all the employees in. "I move on the very last day," Feb. 26, Jarvis said
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News