Walmart gives first look at its new digs

Walmart is investing in an expansive new headquarters as it looks to attract “the next generation of talent.”

The world’s largest retailer (and the nation’s largest private employer) will build a new corporate campus across 350 acres of native-seeded greenery in its hometown of Bentonville, Ark. Walmart unveiled renderings of the site, along with some details, in a blog post on Friday. The sprawling campus will house more than 14,000 employees, with flexibility for more as new jobs are added.

Featuring a flexible open floor plan that encourages collaboration, lots of natural light and an array of employee-friendly benefits, Walmart’s new headquarters reflects the chain’s evolution to a digital powerhouse. In the post, Dan Bartlett, executive VP, corporate affairs, noted that Walmart is “people-led and tech-empowered.”

“For that statement to continue to guide us, we need a modern, connected campus,” he wrote. “We expect this will accelerate Walmart’s digital transformation and help attract the next generation of talent with state-of-the-art technology and contemporary conveniences.”

The new headquarters will offer a dramatic contrast to Walmart’s existing home office, which is spread out across some 21 buildings, including repurposed warehouses, in Bentonville and the surrounding area. It will offer such amenities as expanded food offerings, fitness options, a child care facility, bike trails, and a park.

The buildings will be in keeping with Walmart’s sustainability focus. The eco-friendly features will include solar panels atop parking decks, energy-efficient lighting, and HVAC systems. Regionally-sourced building materials will be used, including mass timber construction.

“The new Walmart campus will showcase thousands of trees, shrubs and grasses to provide habitat for wildlife, shade paths and bike trails, and reconnect associates with nature,” said Bartlett. “We’ve been working for years to be a more sustainable company, and we want our new home to reflect that.

Walmart has not announced the lead architect, or the price tag, for the project.

Demolition, infrastructure and utility construction of the new Walmart headquarters will begin this summer. In the next 18 to 24 months, the support and office buildings will be designed and construction will begin. Walmart’s goal is to open the site in phases between 2020 and 2024.