Wire

Amazon's New Campus Includes a Tropical Forest in Downtown Seattle. Here's an Inside Look

It has 40,000 plants inside.

By Dennis GreenBusiness Insider
  • Amazon created a green paradise in its new Spheres structure in Downtown Seattle.
  • It's part of a $4 billion investment that the company has made in its Seattle headquarters.

Amazon is showing off its green thumb.

The company just took the wraps off its newest downtown Seattle structure. Called The Spheres because of its bulbous shape, Amazon collected plants from greenhouses around the world to take home to Seattle.

Rivers, waterfalls, and towering green walls and meant to take employees into a headspace as serene as the tropical forest the foliage tries to replicate. Workers cluster in "treehouses" to work and collaborate, surrounded by natural beauty.

The Spheres can hold about 800 working Amazonians, who seem to be excited about the new building -- its available slots are already booked through April.

Here's what it's like inside the verdant structure.

The Spheres are the "new visual focus and heart" of Amazon's downtown Seattle campus. Three glassy domes -- the largest of which is 90 feet high and 130 feet wide -- connect to form one large room.

AP/Ted S. Warren

To create them, 620 tons of steel was mixed with 12 million pounds of concrete. The 2,643 panes fill in the rest of the exterior to create the full structure.

To create them, 620 tons of steel was mixed with 12 million pounds of concrete. The 2,643 panes fill in the rest of the exterior to create the full structure.
AP/Ted S. Warren

The idea behind the spheres is greenery and biodiversity. Over 40,000 plants of 400 species fill the domes. Most of the plants are from tropical eco-systems referred to as "cloud forests" where high elevation enables plants to get moisture directly from clouds. The plants were chosen specifically so they could be comfortable at temperatures that are also comfortable for humans.

The idea behind the spheres is greenery and biodiversity. Over 40,000 plants of 400 species fill the domes. Most of the plants are from tropical eco-systems referred to as
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

For scenery, the Spheres feature river and waterfall features, paludariums, and a four-story living wall.

For scenery, the Spheres feature river and waterfall features, paludariums, and a four-story living wall.
AP/Ted S. Warren

The largest plant is a 55-foot tall Ficus rubiginosa called "Rubi," which towers above everything in the structure.

The largest plant is a 55-foot tall Ficus rubiginosa called
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

Amazon worked closely with faculty from the University of Washington and its department of biology on the project, and the company says the building of the Spheres created 600 full time jobs.

Amazon worked closely with faculty from the University of Washington and its department of biology on the project, and the company says the building of the Spheres created 600 full time jobs.
AP/Ted S. Warren

The Spheres are foremost a building for Amazon employees.

The Spheres are foremost a building for Amazon employees.
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

They have "treehouse" meeting rooms where Amazonians can collaborate among the foliage.

They have
AP/Ted S. Warren

Nothing inside the Spheres is enclosed, and all rooms inside the Spheres are open to the verdant greenery.

Nothing inside the Spheres is enclosed, and all rooms inside the Spheres are open to the verdant greenery.
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

The concept for the Spheres was inspired by the idea -- supported by some academic research -- that workspaces full of plant life can make workers more productive and creative.

The concept for the Spheres was inspired by the idea -; supported by some academic research -; that workspaces full of plant life can make workers more productive and creative.
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

The Spheres also feature a visitors center open to the public called "The Understory," where admission is free but a reservation is required. There's also the guided tours Amazon hosts of its campus, which stop in the Spheres, but that also requires a reservation. Amazon also says it will host educational opportunities for local students.

The Spheres also feature a visitors center open to the public called
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

If you really want to get in, there is also space for two retail stores on the ground floor that will be open to the public eventually, and Amazon has also talked about hosting public events in the Spheres.

If you really want to get in, there is also space for two retail stores on the ground floor that will be open to the public eventually, and Amazon has also talked about hosting public events in the Spheres.
Reuters/Lindsey Wasson

In total, Amazon says it spent $4 billion on the design and construction of its headquarters, including the Spheres. The numerous plants the structure houses will surely be singing the company's praises for years to come.

In total, Amazon says it spent $4 billion on the design and construction of the Spheres, a cost it states was an
AP/Ted S. Warren
Correction: Amazon spent $4 billion on its entire Seattle campus, not just the Spheres building.  
This post originally appeared on Business Insider.
Published on: Jan 30, 2018
;