Walmart seeks Silicon Valley vibe for new Arkansas headquarters
Walmart Inc.’s new headquarters that will start taking shape this summer. The 350-acre campus will be located just a few blocks east of Walmart’s current home, a patchwork of more than 20 buildings in Bentonville, Arkansas. It will feature bike paths, food trucks and outdoor meeting areas -- part of an effort to lure younger, digitally-savvy workers to northwestern Arkansas.
The current facilities are “significantly beyond their shelf life,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said on a website detailing the plans. Demolition will begin in July and the project should take five to seven years to complete, the company said.
Walmart first announced the new headquarters two years ago, around the same time rival Amazon.com Inc. unveiled a nationwide search for its second North American headquarters. While Amazon’s hunt made headlines on a daily basis, Walmart quietly spent time visiting corporate and university campuses. McDonald’s new downtown Chicago office provided ideas on how to design interior spaces, while Deloitte’s employee training centers were another model, according to executive vice president of corporate affairs Dan Bartlett. Walmart also visited Stanford, the University of Texas and the nearby University of Arkansas, he said.
Bartlett didn’t provide a budget for the site, but said it would be one of the largest construction projects in the history of the state. Various Walmart buildings, including an employee fitness center, now occupy the land. The current headquarters, where McMillon works in an office once occupied by co-founder Sam Walton, will likely be converted for other uses. The local workforce of about 15,000 will move into the new digs in several phases, Bartlett said in an interview.
Their biggest request? “Windows,” he said. “There will also be plenty of light and taller ceilings. Those are the basics.”