The Rule of Logistics

The Rule of Logistics

Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment

Jesse LeCavalier

How the world’s largest retailer is redefining architecture by organizing flows of merchandise and information across space and time

264 Pages, 7 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780816693320
  • Published: August 26, 2016
  • eBook
  • 9781452951539
  • Published: August 26, 2016
  • Hardcover
  • 9780816693313
  • Published: August 26, 2016


The Rule of Logistics

Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment

Jesse LeCavalier

ISBN: 9780816693320

Publication date: August 26th, 2016

264 Pages


9 x 7

"The Rule of Logistics shows how the world’s largest retailer is redefining architecture, subjectivity, and sovereignty by moving merchandise and information through space and time. Jesse LeCavalier’s research and interpretations are astute and multifaceted."—Jonathan Massey, California College of the Arts


"The author has many intriguing observations about [Walmart] and its logistical obsessions."—Planning Magazine

"The book is, at its core, a historical account of the largest retailer in the US and how it adjusted over time to deliver products to consumers and enhance their shopping experience. Its audience will be anyone interested in retailing design."—CHOICE

"The perspective it provides is a welcome addition to the literature about the impacts of logistics on the contemporary economic landscape."—Economic Geography

"In his case study of the logistical foundations and ethos of Walmart—The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment—LeCavalier delves deeply into the multiscalar workings of the retail giant, revealing along the way that logis- tics is at the core of its emergence as the largest company in the world and its continuing success."—Landscape Architecture Magazine

"The best book on architecture and infrastructure of this decade."—The Architect’s Newspaper

"The Rule of Logistics provides a wonderful complement to that growing literature on critical logistics and critical transport geography more broadly."—AAG Review of Books

Every time you wheel a shopping cart through one of Walmart’s more than 10,000 stores worldwide, or swipe your credit card or purchase something online, you enter a mind-boggling logistical regime. Even if you’ve never shopped at Walmart, its logistics have probably affected your life. The Rule of Logistics makes sense of its spatial and architectural ramifications by analyzing the stores, distribution centers, databases, and inventory practices of the world’s largest corporation.

The Rule of Logistics tells the story of Walmart’s buildings in the context of the corporation’s entire operation, itself characterized by an obsession with logistics. Beginning with the company’s founding in 1962, Jesse LeCavalier reveals how logistics—as a branch of knowledge, an area of work, and a collection of processes—takes shape and changes our built environment. Weaving together archival material with original drawings, LeCavalier shows how a diverse array of ideas, people, and things—military theory and chewing gum, Howard Dean and satellite networks, Hudson River School painters and real estate software, to name a few—are all connected through Walmart’s logistical operations and in turn are transforming how its buildings are conceptualized, located, built, and inhabited.

A major new contribution to architectural history and theory, The Rule of Logistics helps us understand how retailing today is changing our bodies, brains, buildings, and cities and predicts what future forms architecture might take when shaped by systems that exceed its current capacities.

Jesse LeCavalier is assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Introduction: All Those Numbers
1. Logistics: The First With the Most
2. Buildings: A Moving System in Motion
3. Locations: From Intuition to Calculation
4. Bodies: Coping With Data Rich Environments
5. Territory: Management City
Conclusion: Form, Happiness, Infrastructure