- Amazon created a green paradise in its new building in downtown Seattle, called the Spheres.
- It’s part of a $US4 billion investment that the company has made in its Seattle headquarters
Amazon is showing off its green thumb.
The company just took the wraps off the Spheres, called that because of their bulbous shape. Amazon collected plants from greenhouses around the world to take home to the building in downtown Seattle.
Rivers, waterfalls, and towering green walls are meant to take employees into a headspace as serene as the tropical forest the foliage tries to replicate. Workers cluster in “treehouses” to work and collaborate, surrounded by natural beauty.
The Spheres can hold about 800 working Amazon employees, who seem to be excited about it – time slots are already booked through April.
Here’s what it’s like inside the verdant structures.
The Spheres are the “new visual focus and heart” of Amazon’s campus in downtown Seattle. Three glassy domes — the largest of which is 90 feet high and 130 feet wide — connect to form one large room.
To create them, Amazon used 620 tons of steel and 12 million pounds of concrete. The 2,643 glass panes fill in the rest of the exterior to create the full structure.
The idea behind the Spheres is greenery and biodiversity. Over 40,000 plants of 400 species fill the domes — most are from tropical ecosystems referred to as “cloud forests,” where high elevation enables them to get moisture directly from clouds. Amazon chose the plants because they can thrive at temperatures also comfortable for humans.
For scenery, the Spheres feature rivers and waterfalls, paludariums, and a four-story living wall.
The largest plant is a 55-foot-tall <em>Ficus rubiginosa</em> called Rubi, which towers above everything in the structure.
Amazon worked closely on the project with faculty from the University of Washington and its biology department. The company says the building of the Spheres created more than 600 full-time jobs.
The Spheres is foremost a building for Amazon employees.
There are “treehouse” meeting rooms where employees can collaborate among the foliage.
Nothing inside the Spheres is enclosed, and all rooms are open to the verdant environment.
The concept for the Spheres was inspired by the idea that workspaces full of plant life can make workers more productive and creative — an idea supported by some academic research.
The Spheres features a visitors center called the Understory; admission is free, but a reservation is required. Amazon also hosts guided tours of its campus that stop in the Spheres — but that also requires a reservation. Amazon says it will provide educational opportunities for local students.
There is also space for two retail stores on the ground floor, and Amazon has talked about hosting public events in the Spheres.
Source: Seattle Times
In total, Amazon says it spent $US4 billion on the design and construction of its Seattle HQ, including the Spheres. The numerous plants the structures house will surely be singing the company’s praises for years to come.
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