Amazon Opens The Spheres
31. January 2018
The Spheres, the centerpiece of the new Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle, officially opened on Monday. Designed by NBBJ, the glass-enclosed biodomes house more than 40,000 individual plants.
The Spheres are the latest piece to open as part of Amazon's 3.3-million-square-foot, three-block development in Seattle's Denny Regrade neighborhood. The project consists of three 37-story office towers, two mid-rise office buildings and a multi-purpose meeting center that seats 2,000 people. Of the three towers, the first, named Doppler, opened in 2015; the second, Day One, opened one year later; and the third is set for completion later this year.
The various components of Amazon HQ contain ground-level amenities open to the public, but none is more attractive than The Spheres, whose Understory the public can visit with advance reservations. As of Tuesday, employees can visit the Treehouse meeting rooms and other spaces inside The Spheres. According to Amazon, "The Spheres are a place where employees can think and work differently surrounded by plants. ... There are no enclosed offices, conference spaces, or desks."
Amazon's literature on The Spheres boasts "that spaces that embrace biophilic design can inspire creativity and even improve brain function." This assertion begs the question: Why not provide nature-filled spaces in the towers where Amazon's employees work? Vertical atria or planted facades are just a couple ways that Amazon and its architects could have enabled biophilic design to infiltrate more of the large project. So clearly The Spheres is about making an architectural statement – one it does well both outside, with its soap-bubble form, and inside, where the hundreds of species of plants are sure to thrive.