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HOUSTON-Union Pacific Corp. has turned to Houston-based Hines to oversee development of its 19-story, $260-million headquarters in Omaha. The 1.1 million-sf Union Pacific Center will break ground in spring 2002, with an eye on a summer 2004 delivery.

A Hines source tells GlobeSt.com that the Union Pacific headquarters is the firm’s first project in Omaha. Gensler, a leading international architecture firm, designed the building, with will encompass a full CBD block.

Upon completion, Union Pacific Center will house 4,100 employees in a consolidation of 10 offices in Omaha and up to 700 customer service and accounting jobs in a divisional move from St. Louis. The new headquarters is being built across the street from Union Pacific Corp.’s present corporate office location.

In behind-the-scenes activity, Hines has been working for the past 13 months with Union Pacific to implement cost, design and scheduling “required by the investment office market tempered with the unique needs of a headquarters project.” The project is on schedule, says Hines. As development manager, Hines has been assembling an international and local design team, including 14 entities just for the conventional and under-floor air delivery system. Detailed construction drawings will begin in July, with contractor bidding set for November.

Gensler, which has a Houston office, has designed a contemporary glass structure that is positioned on a stone base complementary to older structures in Omaha’s CBD. The interior boasts a dramatic, full-height central atrium for natural lighting as well as strategically positioned work settings to make use of natural lighting. Also incorporated into the design are a 600-seat cafeteria, fitness center, conference and learning area, data center, broadcasting facilities and retail spaces. Union Pacific’s direction had been to create “a light, warm work environment where an employee is proud to work in a modern, cost-efficient building,” according to Hines.

According to Union Pacific, it would have cost $40 million to $50 million to upgrade its existing headquarters and National Customer Service Center in St. Louis. By taking on the building project, the company says it will more than cut operating costs by 25% from the existing maintenance bills at its existing structures. Union Pacific also will be saving $5.5 million in rent and operating expenses now incurred at nine leased sites in Omaha plus realize millions of dollars in savings for remodeling work that would have been necessary for organizational changes at the existing facilities. “Putting more people to work in the same building means that we will accomplish more with less effort,” says Jim Young, Union Pacific’s executive vice president of finance.

Gensler and Hines have teamed in the past. Gensler has offices in 24 US cities as well as London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Last year, the company was selected as firm of the year by the American Institute of Architects. Hines teams also are serving as development manager for the new Bear Stearns headquarters in New York City, ABN AMRO in Chicago, General Motors Global Headquarters in Detroit, Gannett/USA Today’s headquarters in McLean, VA, Cisco’s Paris project and Houston’s Enron Center.

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