Whole Foods Market GSO

Wirt Design Group design principal Ed Melgar says transparency is the heart of the re-design for Whole Foods’ corporate headquarters in Austin. “Inspiration came from Whole Foods’ own core philosophy,” says Ed. “Starting as a grass-roots enterprise, they were the first supermarket to bring transparency to their customers about the products they sell. This is also true of the company’s office culture,” he adds. As the company grew, they retained much of their original culture.

The designers utilized those same principles in reimagining the existing offices. By re-locating workstations along the exterior of the floors, lowering workstation horizons and utilizing glass walls at all interior spaces, the designers maximized transparency, connecting the staff to one another and also to views of downtown Austin.

The new layout improves efficiency, collaboration, and circulation while also shrinking the workstation footprint. The net result reduced square footage from 325 per person to just 200. As a consequence, Whole Foods freed up the equivalent of an entire floor for expansion and additional staffing.

And in keeping with Whole Foods green-conscious philosophy, the architects utilized eco-friendly materials including recycled wood, non-glue carpeting, and all LED-lighting. Workstations were designed so they could be easily reconfigured and utilized for multiple purposes. Power demand on the building has dropped significantly since the redesign. The overall project now meets LEED certification standards.

Additionally, the use of bright, fun graphics reflects Whole Foods’ civic-social character. Elements of store branding, its Whole Kids Foundation, as well as various community programs are part of the new work environment. “Whole Foods gives back,” says Ed Melgar. “That mission is now designed and built into their office spaces. We created a lot of messaging to highlight where they came from and who they are now. It’s all out there now for everyone to see.”