Walmart hasn't always synonymous with sprawl, and maybe it won't always be. Its new corporate headquarters has been designed as a walkable urban place, and a magnet for talent.

2 minute read

November 24, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Walmart Museum

shuttersv / Shutterstock

Patrick Sisson reports in details on plans for Walmart's new corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, which attempt to accomplish many of the same kinds of walkable urban design that have become popular with many tech companies on the coasts. Instead of coming to the tech talent in places like the Silicon Valley, Walmart hopes to lure talent to them, in Arkansas.

In May, the company announced plans to build a new campus spread across 350 acres just blocks from Bentonville’s downtown. A vast reimagining of the company’s headquarters, complete with of-the-moment design trends—mass timber construction and bike paths bisecting cafes and outdoor meeting rooms—the planned campus offers a vision of corporate evolution, showcasing the retailer as a high-tech, cutting-edge talent magnet.

Sisson also points out the urban design ethos apparent in the designs, created by Gensler, Sasaki, and SWA.

It’s also a prime example of how corporations use—and, some might say, co-opt—the language of urbanism to present themselves as good neighbors and more attractive places to work. Walmart seeks to build a new neighborhood that will not only be a destination for tech workers, but also a new amenity for everybody in Bentonville.

As noted by Sisson, Walmart's urban design ambitions, as represented by these plans, also represents a return to the company's past as a small town store located on a walkable mainstreet, before it became synonymous with big box stores, sprawl, and massive parking lots.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 in Curbed

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.