Amazon has opened The Spheres on its Seattle WA campus with Jeff Bezos presiding. The Spheres are home to more than 40,000 plants from around the world and are intended as a spot where Amazon employees can work in a tropical rainforest-like environment. “Our goal with The Spheres was to create a unique gathering place where employees could collaborate and innovate together, and where the Seattle community could gather to experience biodiversity in the center of the city,” explains John Schoettler, Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate and Facilities. “I am very proud and thankful to the entire team who made The Spheres a reality – they did a terrific job from the design all the way to the finishing touches. We are thrilled to officially open the doors.”
The Spheres feature treehouse meeting rooms, river and waterfall features, paludariums, a four-story living wall, and epiphytic trees. They are home to more than 400 species spanning five continents and 50 countries, and many of the plants have journeyed from botanical gardens, tree nurseries, and conservation programs around the globe. Amazon promises to provide access and educational opportunities to the Seattle community through tours, field trips and partnerships with local schools and universities. The Spheres also include a visitor center – called The Understory – that is open to the public year round. It provides a fully immersive, 360-degree experience where visitors can get up close and personal with the science, engineering, and plants behind The Spheres.
“The Spheres are sure to become an iconic part of downtown Seattle, and I applaud Amazon for its latest innovation,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said. “These unique buildings are so much more than a beautiful creative space for Amazon employees. They will help conserve a number of rare plant species from around the world and provide countless educational opportunities for local students – and that’s something Washington can take pride in.” Stated Mayor Jenny Durkan: “Seattle is the coolest city in the country, leading the way with innovative urban projects like The Spheres. This unique landscape will bring together students, visitors, and residents in the heart of our City.” Adds Toby Bradshaw, Professor and Chair, UW Department of Biology: “The most delightful design feature of Amazon’s Spheres goes far beyond bringing natural beauty into Seattle’s urban core. The use of plant biodiversity — including the ‘weird’ and ‘ugly’ specimens — to tell the story of interconnections among living things will be an inspiration to all who visit and work at The Spheres.”