May. 14, 2018In the heart of the Amazon campus in Seattle, Washington, one landmark is attracting the attention of more than just employees. Amazon’s stunning Seattle Spheres tower over visitors and teem with exotic plants, gathered from the farthest reaches and hand-picked to thrive in this stunning life-size terrarium.
Proposed in February 2013, the Spheres were designed to provide Amazon employees with a release from their screens and cubicle life — a place to disconnect and let their minds wander to radical new horizons.
Now open on select days to the public for exploration, the Spheres have attracted attention as an architectural marvel in the heart of the Emerald City.
The Tech World Is Leaving Its Mark
Amazon isn’t the first tech giant to make headlines with its architectural innovation. Around the world, tech companies are dipping into their generous profit margins to seemingly leave their mark on the world, constructing homages to their core values that inspire and captivate visitors from well beyond their payroll.
Apple’s circular Mothership in the Silicon Valley is a shining testament to the determination of the tech industry to make a lasting impression that goes well beyond UI and hardware upgrades.
Amazon’s Incredible Spheres
Amazon’s Seattle Spheres were a massive undertaking — a $4 billion project that took just five years to complete. In January of this year, the company finally unveiled them for their grand opening, and crowds have been captivated ever since.
The three connected spheres are made up of 2,643 panes of highly-specialized glass designed to facilitate an indoor climate more favorable for the plants inside than what the typical Seattle forecast allows.
Before the structure was built and filled with plants, planners built a mockup to test the indoor atmosphere and ensure it was suitable for maintaining an ideal temperature and humidity.
The steel frame of the spheres is what’s known as a pentagonal hexecontahedron (try to say that five times fast). The frame was put together like Legos after being mass produced by a steel fabricator in Oregon.
Inside, the spheres teem with life gathered from greenhouses and arboretums from around the US. Living walls comprised of over 25,000 plants woven into 4,000 square feet of mesh tower over walkways.
The largest occupant of the spheres is a 36,000 pound Ficus rubiginosa named Rubi, standing at 49 feet tall. The tree was so large, one of the tops of the spheres had to be removed to have her craned in!
Visiting the Spheres
Looking to take a tour? While the Seattle Spheres are technically on the Amazon campus, public visits are open on select weekends by reservation only.
Book a Tour of the Spheres
There is no coat check, so don’t bring yours — the Spheres stay at a balmy 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 60% humidity to keep the plants happy. Also keep in mind that strollers aren’t permitted, so you’ll want to bring a baby carrier if you have tiny humans in tow.
Inside the Spheres, draft sodas and artisan-style donuts and pastries are available at the General Porpoise Cafe — be sure to stop and sample some of their handcrafted jams and custards!
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