It has been fun to see the plans come together for Amazon’s new three-block campus on the edge of downtown Seattle. The company’s architects this week took it up a notch when they showed the surprisingly cool color schemes that Amazon plans to add to the Seattle skyline (above).

I’m no architecture critic, but the word “iconic” keeps popping to mind. In an industry full of soulless suburban campuses, give Jeff Bezos & Co. credit for building this in the city, at least.

But Amazon isn’t the only big tech company with a new headquarters in the works. I remember watching the video feed from the Cupertino City Council last year, sitting there amazed as Steve Jobs presented plans for the company’s jaw-dropping “Apple Campus 2” — a circular, 2.8-million-square-foot, glass-enclosed building in the middle of an apricot orchard.

As Jobs put it, “It’s a little like a spaceship landed.”

Which one is cooler? It’s hard to say. I like the fact that each project seems to reflect the personality of its future occupant. Here’s another way of asking the question: All else being equal, in which setting would you rather work or spend time? Vote in our poll below.

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  • Guest

    Apple’s toroidal headquarters looks very cool and is certainly very valuable, but I’m concerned that it’s completely isolated from the community in which it would sit. Everything is proprietary to the company.

    Amazon’s new headquarters is so accessible that you can walk through it, just not into the office areas. Savvy entrepreneurs can leverage the urban geography to cater to the large and growing corpus of Amazon employees, along with the many tourists, residents, and workers of other companies in the area.

    • johnhcook

      Agreed. I’d much rather be in downtown Seattle than the Silicon Valley burbs!

    • Anon

      Like you said… one may or may not like how each of the two look like, but the reality of the matter is that Amazon made a choice of being in town and in touch rather than being out of town and have this weird conception as if they’re feeding us culture and we’re just accepting it.

  • Lawrence Lam

    Architecture wise I’m not sure what appeal the Amazon building has…it’s just another glass skyscraper. Nice but unremarkable.

  • Adam Benzion

    Spaceship vs. Building. Come on people, its spaceship all the way.

  • Jen Mortensen

    Apple. They’ll at least have plenty of apricots to go around at lunch, while the poor South Lake Union folks will be waiting in mile long lines at Whole Foods.

    • Qualish

      Do what? How do you figure? If there’s mile long lines at Whole Foods we just walk to Pike Place, obviously.

      • J242

        Pike’s Place from SLU? On a LUNCH break? Surely you jest. Even if you catch the SLUT to Westlake, you’re still 5 blocks east and two block north of Pike’s fruit stands.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I agree. With amazon’s building, it is only the colour scheme that is interesting, otherwise it looks like other glass skyscrapers, where as apple’s natural location, could have an interesting impact on its staff day to day work life.

  • Joyfay Delicate

    Both are great…

  • WigFow

    Apples seems like a LOT of wasted space!

  • wiseoracle

    Can’t really judge it as a whole, without both of them actually existing and being able to tour the building to give a full assessment.

  • The_Tim

    Apple is building the world’s largest walled garden.

    While it is pretty, it definitely leaves something to be desired from an urban planning standpoint. Amazon is making a much more efficient use of space. For that, I give them the edge.

  • Stu

    I would have voted for Apple, but it’s in the middle of a forest. You wont be able to see it.

  • SteveW

    From a societal perspective, Apple’s HQ plan looks like a NEXT-level flop. Even the greenest structure the world has ever seen will mean nothing in this suburban setting. If 2,000 employees have to drive there every day, the resulting carbon footprint will swamp every environmental advantage the building confers. The vaunted gurus of design at Apple need to adjust their thinking. In 2012 (and beyond) “design” will have to focus as much on environmental impact as it does on esthetics and user experience. If Apple doesn’t learn that lesson — and fast — you might as well flush your $700 shares down the toilet now.

  • Matt Lerner

    We know which campus has a higher Walk Score — and that means more places for happy hours, eating out, and interactions with people from other companies, etc. Maybe Apple chose a low Walk Score so their employees can’t mingle with outsiders to create new startups :-)

  • Wendy Waters

    Or, ask another question: which one would you most like to live near? work near? commute to (with car being the only option to reach Apple)?

  • Bacilo de Koch

    It is hard to compare the two.

    The geographic settings for each are just about as far apart as you can get. However, I would not fault Apple for it’s suburban location on account of the carbon footprint of it’s commuters. Apple is very proactive when it comes to commute options. The company has it’s own bus system for crying out loud.

    As for being a big waste of space, there is a great deal of underground building and infrastructure that you are not able to see in these renderings.

    Lastly, the Apple campus is not being built in some orchard somewhere, but rather an ugly, concrete covered office park that is being turned back to an orchard in the process. Just the number of new trees planted is staggering.

    On purely architectural terms, I must give the nod the the Apple campus, but as a Seattle resident, I must admit at being very excited by the urban development that has transformed the South Lake Union neighborhood over the last few years, and I look forward to the new Amazon campus being an integral part of it.

  • Seattle Ims

    Apricot Orchard vs. Urban Center? Yeah, I kinda go with the city.

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