However, the software giant is not developing a new campus altogether, rather it is planning a significant modernization of its Redmond headquarters, the company told employees on Tuesday, in a post.
Once complete, Microsoft's main campus will consist of 131 buildings with enough room to support its 47,000 existing employees and up to 8,000 more that it'll eventually hire.
Microsoft plans a multibillion-dollar overhaul of the Redmond campus, developing 18 new buildings by the end of 2024, its biggest physical expansion after more than a decade.
Considering that Apple recently opened its new Apple Park campus and Amazon is looking for a second headquarters, Microsoft's expansion plans are not exactly surprising. The campus will be built for pedestrians and bikes with all cars moved to an underground parking facility. The plan is to create more open office space to encourage greater collaboration and creativity among staff, similar to how some of Microsoft's tech rivals operate. The plans will include a 2-acre open plaza that will fit up to 12,000 people, running and walking trails, facilities for soccer and cricket, and retail space.
Work is expected to take between five and seven years to complete, coinciding with the planned 2023 arrival of a light rail station for the campus. Microsoft says it will help in the design of energy-smart buildings. That would enable Microsoft to raise the headcount at Redmond to a staggering 55,000 employees. "There's an opportunity to build a somewhat denser campus and create a somewhat more urban feel", Smith said. Ten of the structures being replaced are the original X-shaped buildings that marked the early days of Microsoft in Redmond.
When Microsoft settled in to its headquarters in Redmond in 1986, its early buildings were built to emphasize personal working space and lots of windows. Having been the bane of many Microsoft employee for their confusing corridors, it's unlikely they'll be missed.
The company also secured a zoning change previous year that allows it to construct some buildings on the east side of its campus up to 10 stories tall, but it said it has no plans for that height now.