In what may come as a surprise to anyone who works downtown in Seattle, the giant “biospheres” under construction at Amazon’s headquarters aren’t for show.
That’s according to Scott Wyatt a partner at NBBJ, the firm that designed the structures.
“It’s not a set piece,” he said on stage at the GeekWire Summit Tuesday. “It’s not a showpiece. It’s not a showcase for people to come in from the outside. This is for the people that work at Amazon. It’s an alternative workplace, a place where you can go be among plants in a profound way.”
The biospheres are part of a 3.3 million-square-foot office complex spanning three blocks in the heart of Seattle’s business district. Amazon hired a full-time horticulturist to populate the structures with plants that thrive in a climate that’s also comfortable for humans. The idea, as Wyatt noted, is to create a temperate workspace for Amazon employees.
“It was the belief of our client that this would be a way to make happier healthier, more productive and more creative employees,” said Wyatt. “It’s a big investment in that and there’s a big belief that this will work.”
The orbs, set to open in 2018, were a vision of Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. For years, he’s advocated for expanding in the city instead of the suburbs, despite the tension created by the associated growing pains.
Amazon is “building a neighborhood that blurs the boundary between living and working and playing in a city,” Wyatt said Tuesday.