In a couple years, Amazon employees will be able to walk on a suspension bridge over a forest and settle into a nest perched within a mature tree for a brainstorming session.
That is the vision for the triumvirate of 100-foot-tall glass orbs under construction at Amazon’s new Denny Triangle headquarters, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Designed by NBBJ, Amazon wants the orbs to be on par with the Space Needle as a signature visual element in Seattle.
The orbs, or biospheres as Amazon calls them, will house more than 300 species of plants, according to the report. Many of them are endangered species, so the orbs will be as much a conservancy as a work space. Amazon has a horticulturalist on staff charged with finding plants that work in a cool, dry environment that is comfortable for humans rather than a hot and humid greenhouse-like setting.
GeekWire has been tracking the construction of the glass orbs over the past year. In the report, Amazon offers new details about its plans and reasons for building the structures. The idea for the plant-filled orbs came out of internal research showing that employees need a connection to nature. Amazon has eschewed the perks offered by rival tech giants, deciding instead to focus on its urban campus as its main amenity to lure and retain top talent.
The orbs are set to open in 2018, as part of the second block of Amazon’s new downtown office project. Amazon owns four blocks in the Denny Triangle neighborhood where it could build approximately 4.1 million square feet of office space, according to city of Seattle permit records.
When the new campus is complete, Amazon will occupy approximately 10 million square feet in Seattle, or about 15 percent of the office space in the city. Bloomberg reports that the new campus will provide enough space for Amazon to double its Seattle workforce to about 50,000 people over the next decade.