Microsoft begins anew with a multi-billion-dollar renovation of its Redmond campus

Microsoft has announced it’s going to renovate and expand its Redmond, Washington headquarters in a bid to modernise the business’ campus.

Microsoft isn’t looking to relocate, unlike its fellow Washington-based tech company Amazon. Instead, it’s sticking to its roots and doubling down on a life in Washington. Its plan is to build on existing ground and add capacity for an additional 8,000 staff members along with creating more open spaces in the process. Currently, Microsoft’s campus supports a workforce of 48,000 across 125 buildings.

“Next fall, we will break ground on a multi-year campus refresh project that will include 18 new buildings, 6.7 million square feet of renovated workspace, $150 million in transportation infrastructure improvements, public spaces, sports fields and green space,” Microsoft wrote in its announcement. “When this project is complete, our main campus will be comprised of 131 buildings — including the equivalent of 180 [American] football fields of new and renovated space.”

The project is slated to take around five to seven years to complete and, according to Bloomberg, will cost multiple billions. It’s also believed that 12 buildings will be knocked down and replaced with 18 buildings instead, many of which are double in height. Car parks that sat adjacent buildings will be moved underground to provide more space for buildings and recreational ground.

Buildings on the campus will be closer together than before and its focus is more on pedestrianising Microsoft’s HQ, rather than turning it into a sprawl navigable only by car. There are also plans for a local light rail to take workers to and from locations around the campus.

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The reworking of the Redmond, Washington campus is part of CEO Satya Nadella’s vision for Microsoft. Having successfully moved the company into the modern age with the birth of its Surface range of devices, the reworking of its Xbox brand and the modernising of its OS with Windows 10, campus renovation is the next step.

For Nadella, a renovation like this is an opportunity to create a collaborative environment for work with a better balance of work and employee wellbeing. Along with the new buildings and public spaces, Microsoft’s new campus is designed to have running and walking trails and an open-air plaza capable of holding 8,000 to 12,000 people.

The renovation will see the iconic X-shaped buildings of Bill Gates’ Microsoft era go. Having been the bane of many Microsoft employee for their confusing corridors, it’s unlikely they’ll be missed. Lake Bill, a small pond in the centre of the campus that pays homage to company co-founder Bill Gates, will remain.

Microsoft’s campus renovation definitely seems like a far bigger project than Apple’s mammoth UFO-like campus that only recently just opened. The project cost $5 billion and took five years to complete, so it’s looking like Microsoft’s project could take longer and cost more than Apple’s move. This is partly because, unlike Apple, Microsoft is ensuring it stays within the land it currently owns instead of expanding or shifting its workforce.

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