In five years Microsoft's Redmond, Wash. headquarters will look very different.
As it stands now, the corporate campus Microsoft calls home is sprinkled with several, fairly non-descript office buildings, at least from the outside looking in. Workers walk, bike or are bussed between labs, offices and other facilities, oftentimes negotiating vehicular traffic to get to their destinations.
That's set to change beginning in the fall of 2018.
The software maker is embarking on a "multi-year campus refresh," announced Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, on Nov. 28. The ambitious, five- to seven-year project involves replacing 12 existing structures and putting up 18 airy new buildings at the company's East Redmond campus. In an environmentally-friendly move, the new construction will feature building and energy monitoring systems powered by the company's own Azure cloud-computing platform.
"Today Microsoft has 125 buildings in the Puget Sound region," noted Smith in his announcement. "When this project is complete, our main campus will be comprised of 131 buildings—including the equivalent of 180 football fields of new and renovated space—of modern workspace for the 47,000 employees who work here every day, plus room to expand operations and add up to 8,000 more people," added Smith, suggesting that Microsoft may one day go on a hiring spree.
Microsoft is also investing $150 million in transportation infrastructure, green spaces, public areas and athletic fields. When completed, the revamped campus will put pedestrians first, with car-free walkways, trails and gathering spots. Plans call for a two-acre open plaza that can fit 12,000 people, providing a suitable backdrop for large-scale company events.
By 2020, a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge will cross highway WA-520, linking both sides of the campus. And by 2023, the Redmond Technology Transit Station will pull up to the new bridge, providing light rail service to Microsoft's headquarters.
Despite the project's pedestrian-first focus, car commuters haven't been entirely forgotten. Cars will be kept out of sight and out of mind with an underground parking facility.
Microsoft isn't alone in finding new digs for its workers.
In April, Apple finally cut the ribbon on its new 'Spaceship' headquarters. Spanning approximately 2.8 million square feet and able to accommodate up to 14,200 employees, the massive structure is also home to the Steve Jobs Theater, dedicated to the legendary Apple co-founder. The venue made its public debut in September during a media event that included the highly-anticipated unveiling of the iPhone X.
In April, cloud CRM giant Salesforce celebrated the "topping off" of Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The company will begin moving employees into the 1.4-million-square-foot, 61-story building—30 of which are devoted to Salesforce—in early 2018. WeWork, the co-working startup, is also setting up shop at Salesforce Tower, located at 415 Mission Street.
Meanwhile, Amazon is on the hunt for a metropolitan area in which to build a second headquarters.
The company is currently reviewing the proposals of over 100 North American localities that are hoping to attract the $5 billion Amazon is expected to pour into the project, not the mention the 50,000 well-paid workers that will frequent the location and its surrounding neighborhoods.