Photography by Dero Sanford
Bank OZK has deep Arkansas roots. Founded in 1903, George Gleason, its chairman and CEO, purchased the then Ozark-based bank in 1979 at just 25 years old. Today, as Bank OZK, it is one of the most respected banks in the U.S. For more than four decades under George’s leadership, the bank has remained steadfast in its unwavering commitment to excellence and stewardship. Those values are reflected in the bank’s recently completed West Little Rock headquarters, which serves as a beacon of prosperity and civic leadership. The new facility represents the bank’s national success, George’s appreciation for the Natural State and his vision for the future.
“Arkansans have helped fuel our transformation from a small community bank into one of the nation’s most prestigious financial institutions with diverse business lines,” says George. “This headquarters is a testament to our continued dedication to making our home state, team and customers proud.”
The 44-acre campus, which features gathering places complemented by native landscape, showcases an extraordinary building and innovative workspaces. The lobby opens into an expansive atrium surrounded by offices and meeting areas, with a 360-degree circumference of balconies and bridges that connect two structures, adorned with ample natural light and views. The design is airy and spacious, even at full capacity of more than 800 employees. George says, “There is a certain ‘wow’ factor in this building. It is designed to produce awe-inspiring results for our customers and company.”
Designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects – the progressive, thoughtful architecture of the 248,000-square-foot building not only represents the bank’s unprecedented growth, it also beckons creativity and collaboration. “This is a place where we’ll forge the path for our company’s future growth and success.”
The publicly-traded Bank OZK has grown to rank in the top 100 banks in the country, outgrowing its three previous Little Rock headquarters. It is the largest bank in Arkansas with more than 250 offices across nine states. Over the last decade, it has been recognized 13 times as the top performing bank in the nation for its asset size. It was recently named Best Bank in the South by Money and among the World’s Best Banks and America’s Best Banks by Forbes. Currently, it is one of the most highly capitalized banks in the U.S., with $26.89 billion in total assets as of September 30, 2020.
Like its accolades, its physical presence is impressive—the structure strategically creates new opportunities for the next generation of business and civic leaders. With a bold vision for the future, George is ready to continue to engage a broader audience of individuals inspired to make an impact in Arkansas. “It’s an energetic environment, reflecting our quest for excellence and continuous innovation, and designed to recruit and retain the most talented individuals.”
The soaring atrium and open meeting spaces encourage synergy and creativity among its members. George continues, “Teamwork, collaboration and diversity are the cornerstones of our company. We believe our potential together far exceeds the sum of our potential individually, and this building will foster camaraderie and opportunity for our team members.”
The intentional purpose of this headquarters spans beyond a place of work. George expects it will enrich the community and cultivate public engagement. From old masters paintings to contemporary creations, the more than 50 pieces of international artwork that grace the space are remarkable and museum-worthy. As George notes, the collection emboldens retrospection and thoughtfulness while fostering a pursuit of expertise in a competitive industry that is unparalleled.
“We’ve built Bank OZK on a foundation of hard work, integrity and relationships,” says George. “These values are woven through every design element of our headquarters as both a reminder and guide for what I believe will be a very strong future.”
Now, more than ever, Bank OZK represents stability during times of uncertainty and a vision for the future that is bright. And its new headquarters is certainly an inspiration for continued innovation coupled with measurable results.