The Amazon Spheres have proven to be a hit with employees of the tech giant, who have enjoyed exclusive access to the glass orbs — designed specifically for them as a unique office space in downtown Seattle — since CEO Jeff Bezos officially opened them on Jan. 29. Now the public will get a closer look at what’s going on inside the plant-filled structures.
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Amazon is opening the Spheres to visitors on two Saturdays per month. Just like the workers who stroll the walkways, sit beside the waterfalls, stare up at the 4,000-square-foot living wall or down from the 55-foot-high treetops, the general public will be allowed unguided access.
This is a change from Amazon’s original plan, which was to allow curious plant lovers and architecture geeks an inside look only on official campus HQ tours. That was a tough pill to swallow for Seattleites who had seen the dramatic domes take shape between the company’s Doppler and Day 1 office towers and figured they would be able to just walk right in.
A visitor center located on Seventh Avenue at the base of the Spheres, called Understory, teases non-Amazonians with limited access and a museum-style exhibit — but no view of the 40,000 plants in their tropical environment, dashing the hopes of people who thought they were getting full access.
Amazon certainly didn’t want its new employee space, featuring a delicate ecosystem, to be overrun in the early going. Even employees had to use a reservation system when the structures opened. John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities, told GeekWire before the Spheres opened about the vision for who would get inside.
“There’s an amazing teaching moment here, and we envision being able to open these Spheres to the public occasionally for field trips and for educational purposes with different schools and universities,” Schoettler said. “This is our office space, and we don’t invite the public into any of the towers. This is just an alternative working space for our employees.”
But a couple months into the process, the plants are thriving and Amazon is ready for more visitors.
A reservation system for the weekend visits has been set up on the Spheres website. Reservations are available 30 days in advance of each date. Here’s a glimpse of what the system and calendar showed us when we tried it Wednesday afternoon:
Check out the site for an FAQ on what else you should know before you visit, such as what to expect from the indoor climate, whether dogs and kids are allowed, food options, photography rules and more.
And if you don’t get in right away, Amazon has also launched a new blog on “horticultural happenings” at the landmark, called The Spheres Plant Press.