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Amazon Spheres
The Spheres on the Amazon campus in Seattle. (Amazon Photo)

Five years after they were first proposed as an indoor space filled with plants and tall trees, The Spheres at the base of the tall towers on Amazon’s downtown Seattle campus are close to opening. And a new website is up and running to showcase all the work that has gone into the unique structures.

SeattleSpheres.com offers visitors a recap of the architectural and horticultural effort to date, and provides a bit of a tour through stories and images before Jan. 30 when The Spheres will officially open to the tech giant’s employees.

Located on Lenora Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, the three glass orbs — designed by NBBJ — and the busy work around them have proven to be an intriguing element tied to Amazon’s rapid growth in the city.

The website lists some of the milestone dates along the way, including design proposals (February 2013); first plant cultivated in Woodinville, Wash., greenhouse (April 2014); groundbreaking (June 2015); completion of the steel structure (March 2016); insertion of the last glass panel (December 2016), first plant in The Spheres (May 2017); largest tree planted (June 2017); and living walls completed (October 2017).

Amazon Spheres
(Amazon Photo)

The object of the objects is to get Amazon employees away from their typical workspaces — perhaps in the Doppler or Day 1 towers which loom overhead — and get them to think and work differently thanks to a greener surrounding without walls or cubicles.

The website says The Spheres are home to 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries. A new video from Amazon also reveals the compelling journey of one of those plant specimens — a 55-foot-tall Ficus rubiginosa tree from California nicknamed Rubi.

Other fun facts from the site:

  • The Spheres are really two different buildings — an outer frame with an interior concrete core. The core was made with 12 million pounds of concrete reinforced by 2.5 million pounds of rebar.
  • A geometric shape called the pentagonal hexecontahedron forms The Spheres’ steel frame. The Spheres’ shape is based on one of 26 known subsets of Catalan solids named for the Belgian mathematician who first described them in 1865.
  • The Spheres’ façade contains 2,643 panes of glass.
  • The Spheres’ first plant resident was an Australian tree fern, known as Cyathea australis.
  • There are more than 25,000 plants woven into 4,000 square feet of the living walls.

Learn more about the building and the plants, or schedule a visit to the The Spheres Discovery at Understory.

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