PPD Headquarters Officially Opens

Wilmington, NC – Local dignitaries, and the media, got a rare glimpse behind the doors of PPD's new world headquarters, as the company celebrated its official grand opening in downtown Wilmington.

From the top floor of the new PPD building you can see the water tower in Carolina Beach, 15 miles south.

The facility's stunning views compete for attention with a laundry list of lavish features -- walls sheathed in glowing maple wood; a gallery's worth of original artwork, much of it by local artists; and a 10,000-foot fitness center with a fulltime wellness manager, a view of the river, and that rubbery new-gym-floor smell.

But this is still an office building, and the common denominator is the standard cube farm -- tastefully upholstered in gray-blue fabric. Central floors boast mazes of us to 140 cubicles.

At full capacity, roughly 2000 PPD employees will work in the building. PPD CEO Fred Eshelman says that if the headquarters continues to grow, it will need a second building, and he hopes to do it at this site.

The company expects to have all its Wilmington workers installed in the new facility by the end of June. Eshelman says that combining workers from its six former offices will make the company more than the sum of its parts, allowing for what he calls 'hall interaction.'

"In other words, people speaking to each other in the hall, in the break rooms, and so forth and so on. And there's just such an exchange of ideas and energy and all those sorts of things that you miss when all of our people are spread out all over creation," Eshelman said at Thursday's press conference.

The sound of snapping camera shutters that greeted Eshelman at the podium will be rare in the PPD building - the facility has a strict no-camera policy.