When the Baton Rouge, Louisiana'based billboard company Lamar Advertising outgrew its headquarters, finding another traditional office building would have been the natural next step. But a 1970s data center across the street hit the market, and management decided to make the leap—despite the building's closed-off precast-concrete facade and stingy allotment of windows. “You can imagine staff saying, 'What, we're going to move into that?' ” recalls architect Steve Dumez of the New Orleans'based firm Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR). “It took a tremendous amount of vision to look at that building and say, 'This is going to be our new headquarters.'”
Choosing a frumpy building may seem like a puzzling move for a graphics company, but for CEO Sean Reilly, it was the interior that mattered. “It's not important for us to brag, but rather to create a space that makes our employees feel welcome,” Reilly says. The three-story, 115,000-square-foot building, which opened in March 2012, includes a large training room, open-plan workstations, a ground-floor cafeteria, and an outdoor patio shaded by oak trees.