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Amazon Spheres
John Schoettler, Amazon’s VP of global real estate and facilities, addresses folks inside The Spheres on Thursday. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

On a beautiful, sunny day in Seattle, there’s no better time to be out working in the garden. It’s a decidedly more dramatic proposition if your garden happens to be inside The Spheres on Amazon’s campus just north of downtown.

The three glass-enclosed orbs, which will eventually be home to a huge assortment of unique species of plants from all over the world, were the setting for a ceremonial “first planting” on Thursday afternoon.

GeekWire was on the scene, and we streamed the event live on Facebook (above). Other than through official photographs from Amazon, it’s our first look inside what has become an architectural curiosity on the tech giant’s growing campus over the past couple years.

The plant was unloaded during lunch time from an Amazon Prime truck at the construction site on Lenora Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Here’s the video of the arrival:

On the second level of one of the glass domes, a crowd of officials, construction workers, onlookers and media assembled. John Schoettler, Amazon’s VP of global real estate and facilities was joined by guests including King County Executive Dow Constantine; Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw; Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association; and Ron Gagliardo, Amazon’s senior manager for horticultural services.

“The Spheres were a consequence of a lot of deep thought,” Schoettler said. “We wanted to create a unique environment for employees to collaborate and innovate together. We love working in the heart of this vibrant city of Seattle, but sometimes it feels like nature is missing from the urban environment. The Spheres will provide that missing link to nature.”

The first plant, an Australian tree fern, is rolled in for the ceremonial tree planting. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
Amazon Spheres
(GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Amazon Spheres
(GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)
Amazon Spheres
The ceremonial first planting takes place with, from left, Amazon horticulturalist Ron Gagliardo, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Downtown Association president Jon Scholes, and Amazon VP of global real estate John Schoettler. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The Spheres, which aren’t scheduled to open until early next year, will eventually house hundreds of tropical plants in a climate similar to the altitudinal zone found in Costa Rica or Indonesia. Employees will be encouraged to use the space as an escape from normal office life, where they can get in touch with nature and use the setting to “think and work differently.”

GeekWire toured the Woodinville, Wash., greenhouse last month where Amazon is tending to thousands of plants and testing them for future consideration in The Spheres. On Thursday, students from the Lake Washington School District’s Environmental and Adventure School followed up on their visit to the greenhouse and actually wielded shovels to help toss dirt on the the new Australian tree fern that served as the “first plant.”

Schoettler also presented the budding horticulturalists and their school with a check for $10,000 from Amazon.

Surrounded by workers and others in hard hats, Constantine said that Amazon’s commitment to its home region is “cast in glass and steel,” adding that The Spheres remind us of a connection to the natural world that brought many of us to the Pacific Northwest.

“I think Amazon needs to be really commended for doing something remarkable, not just building office space, but building a sense of permanence and a sense of place and identity for our city,” Constantine said.

Amazon Spheres
A grid pattern is laid out on what will be a large living wall inside The Spheres. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
Amazon Spheres
Spheres program manager Justin Schroeder waters the new tree fern. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
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