The Perot Cos. new Turtle Creek campus appears as though it could’ve been plucked out of a scene from the artificial-intelligence thriller “Ex Machina.” The building is illuminated with natural light, which spills in through the large windows that surround every side. The three-story campus sits low into the ground, and the trees in Turtle Creek disguise the surrounding urban area. It has heavy surveillance and security led by Marine Embassy Guards. It’s only missing a helipad for the helicopter Ross Perot Jr. uses to fly to his mixed-use development, AllianceTexas, but that could end up near one of the other three buildings that the Perots have yet to develop.
Perot did his homework when it came to the design of the 175,000-square-foot campus. For inspiration, he visited the headquarters of West Coast innovators like Google, Facebook, and Pixar, which he said had the biggest impact. What developed from there, thanks to Seattle-based architect Mithun, was a corporate campus that embodies The Perot Cos. culture, collaboration, and sustainability. It was an attempt to recreate the feeling of his father’s technology company Electronic Data Systems, which was later acquired by Hewlett-Packard, Perot said.
The entire layout is designed around the company’s “town square,” which encourages socialization and collaboration for the company’s 280 employees that work at the site, Perot said. And that idea came from Steve Jobs, former Apple and Pixar CEO, who designed Pixar’s campus around “Main Street,” the central drag of the campus. If Jobs had gotten his way, Main Street would’ve been the only place where employees would’ve found a restroom. But the nod to Jobs isn’t only in the building’s design, it’s also in the elaborate family museum that resides at the campus. The museum, which is rife with historical photos, mementos, and artifacts, displays a photo of Ross Perot Sr. walking with Steve Jobs. “Dad was close to Steve,” Perot Jr. said as he pointed to the photo.
Like the West Coast innovators, he also wanted the new office to offer great food selections. But he would do things a little differently for his Dallas-Fort Worth employees.
“A lot of high-tech companies have a focus on food but with market prices,” he said, referring to the West Coast. “Ours is subsidized.” Perot says he spends about $7 or $8 for his lunch.
The new office also has a large indoor gym, complete with showers and lockers, as well as an outdoor “wellness area.” Perot wanted the new campus to promote wellness so much of the design encourages walking, he said.
It also has three floors of parking—something he and his San Francisco friends are convinced will fade away as the sharing economy and companies like Uber continue to take market share, he said.
But unlike a lot of West Coast innovators, Perot strayed from implementing an open workspace layout in the new office.
The University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for Brain Health “said high-density offices are not as efficient,” Perot said. It could take up to five minutes to regain concentration after an interruption, he added. So instead, the Turtle Creek campus chose to give its employees private glass offices where they can still see everything happening around them—like when the massive Superman or gorilla statues are put on display to celebrate a milestone.
The new office is modern, to say the least, but it is rife with history and historical references to both the family and the company’s beginnings. Perot seems pretty satisfied with how the campus turned out. And that’s a good thing, because as Harlan Crow and Ray Hunt told him, “Don’t cut corners. You’re going to be in the same office for the next few decades. ”