Amazon’s Downtown Seattle ‘Spheres’ To Be Urban Oasis For Employees

These Spheres and their plants will hopefully be the reason the next great Amazon idea is born.

Credit: Greg Gilbert/Seattle Times

If you live in Seattle or have visited in the last year, you’ve likely seen the elephant in the city: Amazon’s ‘Spheres‘ that have been under construction for over a year now and are the most unusual buildings in the whole downtown area. The Spheres, which were previously referred to as the Biospheres, are located in front of the skyscrapers that Amazon now works out of and are part of a massive park project by the company.

The Spheres are part of CEO Jeff Bezos’ dream to create and maintain an urban campus for his employees near their headquarters, no matter how big the company gets. Though Bezos has previously rejected the perks that Google offers its employees, like massages and free lunch, he has affirmed that Amazon treats its employees well and these Spheres are certainly proof of that.

Credit: Grant Hindsley/Seattle PI

“I never could have imagined when I joined the company in 1999 that we would employ a full time horticulturalist to oversee the diverse plant life that we will have in the spheres,” said Jeff Wilke, now the CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, during a speech last year. “It will be a place where new possibilities are explored and ideas are formed.”

Credit: Grant Hindsley/Seattle PI

The Spheres will be home to over 400 different plant species, some of which are endangered, and is intended to act as an oasis for the hardworking employees who need a break of a change of scenery. These Spheres are just the latest in Amazon’s affirmation that they will stay in Seattle, no matter how big they get. According to John Schoettler, the company’s global real estate director, the only thing missing from their urban workspaces was that important link to nature.

Since the Spheres will be home to some endangered species, these structures will act as a conservation project as well. The Spheres are meant to be comfortable for both humans and plants and will be surrounded by other park features that the public can access, such as a dog run and playing field. It’s perfect for employees too, since some bring their dog to work everyday.

Credit: Grant Hindsley/Seattle PI

The Spheres are set to open in 2018 and they just had their first planting of an 11-foot Australian fern that was ceremonious and open to media for the first-ever photos from the inside. It is the first of thousands of plants that will inhabit the space that chief Amazon horticulturalist, Ron Gagliardo, and his team of four spent three years researching and cultivating prior to the planting.

In an interview, Gagliardo spoke about the 11-foot fern that was just planted. “When we got it, it was this big,” he said, holding his index finger and his thumb a few inches apart.

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