Grounding Walmart’s New Home Office Campus in “Big Nature”

Gerdo Aquino

Gerdo Aquino
tells the story:

As Walmart forges ahead with development of its new home office campus in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company is sharing its approach to workplace design, combining a commitment to employees with a sense of greater responsibility to the broader community and natural environment.

In Walmart’s latest “Breaking Ground” video, SWA’s Gerdo Aquino, Ying-yu Hung, and Jana Wehby discuss their landscape design concept for the project, which is based on an idea of “big nature.”

We asked Gerdo Aquino to tell us more:

What is “Big Nature”? 

Big Nature is an aspirational concept: the idea that every landscape we inhabit, we develop – small or large – is part of a larger ecological system. We should always be mindful of that.

How is that idea manifested in the Walmart project? 

Our first cue was looking at the macro scale of the Ozark Mountains and understanding its character, its natural beauty and plant species. From there, we analyzed our site and based on historic map data, recreated what our site may have looked like over 300 years ago: forested, open glades and seasonal streams.  This “historic” map became the basis of our approach to the landscape architecture design of the overall campus.

Why is it important? 

This idea, Big Nature, and the campus-wide application is important because it became the de facto way we (Walmart and SWA) made decisions about design – e.g. is that grove of trees “Big Nature?” Is that bench “Big Nature?” and so on.  Walmart felt the attributes of NW Arkansas, the Ozarks, should be felt on the campus. Big Nature gave us a way to do that.