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business of distinction T ransparency is paramount at Live Oak Bank, both in its beautiful corporate headquarters in Wilmington and in the way it conducts its business. “All the offices are like a glass shower — you are exposed to the world,” says Lee Williams, vice chair-man of Live Oak Bancshares. “Transparency is a big deal at Live Oak Bank, part of the Live Oak culture and mission. There are no private meetings; everyone knows who is coming in. All that leads to collabo-ration, cross-pollination and eye contact. Throughout the course of the day that helps our efficiency.” Live Oak Bank employs more than 300 people at the two-building,10-acre campus off Shipyard Boulevard, behind Verizon and Wilmington Ortho, parceled out from a more than 100-acre tract owned by the MacRae family. A combination of light, glass and wood indigenous to North Carolina offers a physical transparency. The architecture is pure, with interiors of white walls enhanced with natural daylight, a glass façade, cypress ceilings and custom millwork. Contrary to most designs, the stairs are aesthetically prominent, and with views and infinite daylight they are the preferred way of passage. Elevators are disguised in the floor plan and almost never used. The vision for the Live Oak campus was executed by architects LS3P Associates, Clancy & Theys Construction Company, and Atlanta- based interior designer Susan Bozeman. “The typical office building is a rectangle with offices and cubicles around the perimeter,” says Laura Miller of LS3P, the lead designer on building one. “We took that model and split it in half. We are horseshoe-shaped here. It’s not the most efficient layout by any means. What COE Chip Mahan, Lee Williams and bank president Neil Underwood wanted us to do was to give everyone a phenomenal view of the live oaks. The only offices that don’t have windows are the storage rooms that turned into offices because Live Oak grew so quickly.” Everyone on the design and build team had the same goal. “We all wanted it to relate to the outdoors,” Bozeman says. “We felt it needed to be organic and blend with the outside.” It’s all part of the bank’s philosophy that an aesthetic workplace will attract — and keep — the best talent. “We wanted to create an open, collaborative atmosphere that was as unique as our business model in an effort to attract and retain talent forever,” Mahan says. The common areas, which act as social gathering spaces for employees, were furnished by Atlanta interior designer Susan Bozeman. 56 WBM march 2016


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