Images: Amazon.com wants to build a massive biosphere in Seattle (perfect for workers and mature trees)

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Amazon.com is charting a new course for one of its proposed downtown Seattle office buildings, unveiling new drawings this week which show a massive spherical greenhouse-like structure capable of housing multiple forms of plant life as well as mature trees. And, yes, of course, throngs of Amazon workers will be permitted too.

biosphere666The new proposal, which will be discussed at a Design Review Board meeting tonight at Seattle City Hall, is a radical departure from the company’s previous design for a rectangular structure on the so-called “Rufus 2.0″ block. The new biosphere building would be built in conjunction with Amazon.com’s adjoining skyscraper project.

The goal of the new spherical space is to create an environment where employees can “work and socialize in a more natural, park-like setting,” according to documents released in front of tonight’s meeting.

“The generative idea is that a plant-rich environment has many positive qualities that are not often found in a typical office setting,” according to the design documents.

“While the form of the building will be visually reminiscent of a greenhouse or conservatory, plant material will be selected for its ability to co-exist in a microclimate that also suits people,” the documents continue. “To encourage growth and maintain the health of the plants, the building’s interior will include high bay spaces on five floors totaling approximately 65,000 SF and capable of accommodating mature trees.”

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A drawing of Amazon’s new biosphere building

The images of the glass building certainly look futuristic, perhaps mirroring Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ own love of science fiction. They also will put Amazon.com in competition with Apple for geekiest office space. (Previously on GeekWire:  Apple vs. Amazon: Whose new headquarters is cooler?)

It’s also not lost on us that the biosphere concept could play off the company’s name. After all, before Amazon.com arrived on the scene, Amazon was associated with one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet.

Reminiscent of the glass biosphere projects found in ArizonaMontrealGenoa, Italy and the Royal Greenhouses in Belgium, architects at NBBJ noted that the building will mirror “botanical zones modeled on montane ecologies found around the globe.”

Amazon.com is looking to transform a portion of downtown Seattle, with its proposed office project just a few blocks away from its current South Lake Union campus. The project, which could take more than six years to complete, will include three 37-story office towers encompassing about 3.3 million square feet.

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What do you think of the new building design? Love it? Or hate it?

Amazon’s new HQ design

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelRecruits Michael!

    LOVE it!

    • johnhcook

      I agree. Much better than what was proposed previously. It’s nice to see Amazon taking a more creative approach to the space, instead of just slapping a few office towers in downtown. After all, our city is going to be stuck with these creations for a long, long time.

      • Guest

        Agreed, also fits with Seattle’s environmental mindset a bit better too. We are one of the first areas in the country to push forward with waste water treatment on a large scale, pushing to cleanup our water ways, forest and waterway management, etc. Good to see something that’s integrating our high tech industry with a long history of managing our natural environment in our state.

  • Guest

    Nice! I approve.

    • Guest

      me too!

      • Guest

        also me

  • http://twitter.com/joelstimson Joel Stimson

    I’m on board as long as Pauly Shore cuts the ribbon at the grand opening, buuuddy.

  • kpt

    “an environment where employees can ‘work and socialize in a more natural, park-like setting,’”

    We call places like that “parks”. Turns out if you just don’t pave it, trees and other plants happen spontaneously in Seattle.

    • Jon Poland

      Yes and rain happens and cold happens and wall outlets don’t spontaneously happen. If you want to create a park-like setting in a work environment, you need a biosphere.

      • Guest

        Also keeps the crackheads out *see Belltown*.

  • http://www.bytheseacommunications.com Gaby Adam

    So cool! Was just thinking we need a biosphere around here. Seriously, what a wonderful idea to combine nature with the work environment.

  • D

    Awesome

  • tits mcgee

    looks like the 3 tits from total recall from the aerial view

  • earthwulf

    … 2 things: 1) the filename for the view from 2nd ave and westlake is BIOSPHERE666 2) it’s a giant penis.

    I like the concept, but it needs some more spheres or something…

    • 209670938609387

      I think that’s why they made the third and largest sphere. Plus, Bezos = Greek = comes with the territory.

  • Guest

    How does this fit with Amazon’s principle of “frugality” in any way? Rather than spend millions of dollars on biospheres, maybe there should be a bigger focus on compensation, benefits, paternity leave, tuition reimbursement, or other factors that actually matter in the long term?

    • johnhcook

      Here is something to consider: Bezos, through his personal investment vehicle, also is investing in things like a 10,000-year clock and a new space company (Blue Origin).

      http://www.geekwire.com/2011/why-jeff-bezos-is-helping-create-a-10000-year-clock/

      He’s certainly a dreamer, and the new biosphere design, at least in my view, seems to have Bezos’ personal touch on it.

      Personally, I’d rather have the billionaire’s weird and wacky entrepreneurial side shaping the city’s architecture than the “frugal” no frills side.

      Just my two cents.

  • joe smith

    keep the poor and homeless out…

    • Andrew Shenstone

      I was thinking the same thing. Park space is limited in downtown, which I noticed especialy working downtown near pioneer square. Any park space gets inhabited by many homeless people because space is so limited. I bet they are thinking, “how can we make a really nice ‘outdoor’ space and not have it filled with lots of homeless people?”. Cynical line of thinking, but i’m sure its gone through their head.

    • Leif Espelund

      Because the poor and homeless would otherwise be welcome on this (or any other office) property?

  • zato

    “They also will put Amazon.com in competition with Apple for geekiest office space..”

    Microsoft Geekwire cleverly combines its “kills”. A quick Apple “kill” slipped into an Amazon “kill” article!

  • Wayne Tapia

    Love – love – love it! Even better – it’s on the other side of the city, and I won’t have to deal with the traffic impact while it’s being built!

    Seriously, though… it looks totally badass.

  • Kyle

    This is really cool! As long as non-Amazombies can also play!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/vqnguyen2 Viet Q. Nguyen

    Very impressive. This will spark all kinds of conversation about building design.

  • http://www.joulespersecond.com/ Paul Watts

    I appreciate Amazon creating spaces that look really futuristic and innovative, and I agree that it’s better than yet another office building. At the same time it troubles me in a similar way to the proliferation of private transit services like Microsoft Connector. Ideally we’d see more investment in public spaces and infrastructure, but instead we’re getting a futuristic biodome for the tech elite and traffic snarls for everyone else.

    In the best case, this will spark more investment in public spaces, similar to Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project or the main branch of the Public Library. In the worst case our city will begin to look like the future from the movie Elysium.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gonzo.thesmallrabbit Gonzo Thesmallrabbit

    Holly schmolly, this looks, goooooood, great design, not too pretentious, open, full of green, it’s great!

  • handleym

    So in your world no-one is ever allowed to change their mind or behavior, no matter how much their circumstances change?
    Perhaps you’d like to throw in a Steve Jobs quote about not needing video on the iPod, or maybe a Bill Gates quote about 640kB?

  • Tess

    It’s an interesting experiment, but I wonder who will rate biodome space? 3 giant towers plus a drastically smaller biodome space means that it’s only going to be for very select folks.

  • sf

    I’d hate to be working next to it when the sun glares of the bldg and the balls.

  • 209670938609387

    I call shenanigans. Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin have nothing to do with the launch.