VMWare, a leading cloud-computing software company, selected a 100-acre site in Palo Alto to become its global headquarters. Originally developed in the 1960s as the former campus for Roche Pharmaceutical, the site was dated by features typical to that era: large surface parking lots and buildings spread apart and lacking proper connections. In conjunction with the architectural team, PWP was brought in to provide site planning and landscape-architectural design services to create a new campus plan that transformed the aging site to a state-of-the-art global headquarters for the Silicon Valley company.
Central to the campus redesign was the goal of promoting connection and collaboration among the company employees. To achieve this goal, PWP developed the new campus framework around a series of “campus quads,” similar to the framework of nearby Stanford University. PWP conducted detailed design for each quad, creating a memorable and distinct landscape character for each precinct. The Creekside District, for example, is organized around a 700-foot-long water feature with low walls for seating, shaded by an allée of sycamore trees. The water feature is enhanced by the site topography with the water movement echoing the 85-foot grade change from the hilltop entry to the lower creek area. Another quad, the “Town Square,” is designed for campus gatherings: a land-formed, grassy amphitheater, which accommodates 7,000 people. Each campus quad is outfitted with a restaurant for which PWP designed outdoor dining areas.
PWP configured the vehicular and pedestrian access to and through the campus, promoting pedestrian and bicycle circulation in the inner campus core. The reorganized vehicular infrastructure created additional landscape space that PWP transformed into a forested campus edge, with more than 2,600 new trees. The VMware campus is now the largest technology campus in Palo Alto and is affectionately referred to as “the campus in the forest.”