Design Award Entries

Bank OZK Headquarters

Bank OZK Headquarters’ outcrop edges, flowing form, and quartz-like glass stairs rising by pools of water evoke imagery reminiscent of its namesake mountains where the foothills touch the river in Little Rock, Arkansas, while firmly reflecting a rapid national expansion with a timeless, modernist clarity intended to attract talent, foster creative collaboration, and engage community.

Project Statement

With humble beginnings in a small town of 3500 nestled in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, then growing regionally as Bank of the Ozarks, the now rebranded Bank OZK is one of the Nation’s fastest growing banks, with offices from Manhattan to San Francisco. Rapid expansion caused the institution to outgrow three previous headquarters, each within 10 years. The bank needed a solution that anticipates growth, but as importantly a progressive architecture that welcomes clients nationwide, and a recruiting tool for young talent grounded firmly in this place, the foothills near its namesake mountains in Arkansas’ capital city.

Located between parallel ridges in the shadow of popular Pinnacle Mountain State Park, the 44-acre partially developed land generated a walkable multi-phased campus master plan that centers on environmentally sound principals with a collaborative focus, blurring lines between inside/out, and making the entire site a place of work, respite, and interaction with nature. The gently sloping site allowed parking to be bunkered under the building and tucked against the grade, making a 388-car deck stretching the width of the site undetectable, while creating a public engagement through a sculpted, artistic landscape. Site retention becomes water features in the park-like green that the building bridges, attracting wildlife within steps of associates. All future buildings will face the green, with parking concealed under as well.

Two primary office wings are linked by a 5-story atrium that acts as a vertical collaborative center, with conference rooms cantilevered into the space like Ozark Mountain bluff outcroppings, highlighting beautiful views as a link between two distinct green spaces. Below, a café beckons interaction and gatherings inside or out. The multi-use space serves employees, shareholder meetings, and public events, while creating a vertical gallery for the bank’s extensive art collection. The atrium is bridged by a sweeping roof, a symbol of speed, movement, and financial prowess, while shaped to perfectly match the rolling hills and mountainous surroundings; the building becomes a man-made ridge. Stairs are pulled to the exterior and wrapped in glass, encouraging use while acting as vertical beacons from a distance.

The building stretches east-west with deep horizontal blades on the south, and vertical fritted glass fins on east and west to mitigate glare while reducing heat gain. Incredibly, the headquarters, along with 40 branch banks, are powered by a bank-owned solar array that provides 100% of electrical power, taking the building off the grid. 95% of 800 employees will sit within 35 feet of windows overlooking greenspaces instead of the normal sea of parking. The curving roof and clerestories bring light from above, while reaching up across the atrium to connect leadership at level five with four associate floors below... a symbol of openness and accessibility.

Bank OZK’s Headquarters doesn’t sway with the winds of the latest architectural trends, but strives for a timeless, modernist clarity through cleans lines and open spaces that will be relevant for the next 50 years, modelling the bank’s progressive principals, growth, and continued success.

AIA Arkansas