I visited the Amazon Spheres, an indoor rainforest in the heart of Seattle — here's what it's like inside

A rainforest is thriving in one of the most unlikely places: Amazon’s campus in downtown Seattle.

It’s called the Spheres, and it’s a trio of massive glass domes that sit amid Amazon’s business center. The Spheres are intended to serve as a space for Amazon employees to work and collaborate with their colleagues, all while relaxing among flora and fauna from across the globe.

The Spheres officially opened earlier this year and are part of the $US4 billion construction of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

Business Insider got a chance to wander around the Spheres during a recent visit to Seattle. Here’s what they’re like inside.


The Spheres sit adjacent to Amazon’s Day 1 tower, a 521-foot-tall skyscraper in the heart of downtown Seattle. There are technically three spheres, although they’re all fused together.

Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderThat’s the Day 1 tower on the left.

The largest sphere, the one in the middle, is 90 feet high and 130 feet wide. Amazon used 620 tons of steel, 12 million pounds of concrete, and 2,642 glass panes to build the Spheres.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Amazon broke ground on the building in June 2015, and it took nearly two and a half years to complete.

Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderOne of the entrances to the Spheres is located under this geometric glass canopy.

Source: Amazon


While the inside of the Spheres is intended to serve as communal space for Amazon employees to help them feel more productive and creative, there’s space right outside that anyone can use. It has lawn games and plenty of seating.

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There’s also a small dog park that anyone can access. While it was empty early in the morning when I visited, it was full of pups of all sizes later that afternoon.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

The inside of the Spheres is known for its foliage, but the greenery extends to the perimeter of the building as well — lush ferns, shrubs, and palm trees line every footpath.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

When you enter on the back side of the Spheres, this waterfall is the first thing you’ll see.

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As you climb the stairs, you’ll pass small ecosystems like this one. It’s a paludarium, a tank that incorporates both plants and fish. This one contains organisms from a stream habitat in Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia.

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Amazon took every opportunity to incorporate plants into the Spheres — even the support beams have vines snaking their way to the ceiling.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

The Spheres can hold up to 800 employees at a time, and the facility contains four floors. As you climb up, you’ll get a view of the living wall that spans all four stories.

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Source: Business Insider


The 60-foot-tall living wall is a sight to behold. It contains more than 25,000 plants and covers 4,000 square feet. In total, there are 200 different species of plants growing out of this vertical garden.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Amazon


The Spheres contain more than 40,000 plants and 400 species in total. The plants hail from 30 countries

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Amazon chose a specific type of ecosystem for inside the Spheres: “cloud forests,” or plants that grow at high elevations, which allows them to get their moisture directly from the clouds.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Amazon chose these types of plants because they thrive at temperatures that are also comfortable for humans.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


And while it did feel a bit balmy inside the Spheres — and, to be honest, smelled quite gamey and tropical — it wasn’t overly warm.

Avery Hartmans/Business InsiderThis tree fern was the first plant placed inside the Spheres.

There are pathways that wind through the Spheres, which allows you to take in the plants up close.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

If you look up, you’ll see raised platforms like this, which make it feel like you’re heading toward a treehouse. There’s even a meeting room called the Bird’s Nest where you can gaze out over the rest of the forest.

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You can’t see it here, but the Bird’s Nest has a blue oval skylight on the floor. It represents a robin’s egg, and it lets light through to the plants below.

Source: The Spheres/Instagram


The Bird’s Nest is situated next to Rubi, a 55-foot-tall ficus tree. Rubi is the tallest tree inside the Spheres.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Brightly coloured blossoms like this one dot the pathways.

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Elsewhere, exotic blooms grow out of living walls.

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Every so often, the plants are watered with a gentle mist.

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Amazon included these placards that say the type of plant you’re looking at.

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There are also these helpful signs on the floor to help you find your way among the foliage.

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While wandering around, I stumbled upon this guy: a titan arum, commonly known as a “corpse flower” for its pungent odor reminiscent of a rotting carcass. The flower only blooms every so often, but I overheard a Spheres employee saying she expects this one to bloom any day now.

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But plant life isn’t the only thing that resides inside the Spheres — there are fish, too! A big tank on the second floor houses dozens of tropical fish swimming among plants and rocks.

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And if you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a cafe on the third floor called General Porpoise. You can buy coffee, tea, and baked goods here.

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Anyone can take a tour of the Spheres for free, but a reservation is required and it may be tough to get in — right now, there are only a few available reservations online.

Avery Hartmans/Business Insider

You can learn more – and plan your own visit – on the Spheres’ website.

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