Driving through downtown Seattle, it’s impossible to miss Amazon’s wild and crazy biospheres taking shape behind construction tape on Westlake Avenue. The orbital exoskeleton has become familiar, but now Amazon is moving into the next phase of construction. The westernmost sphere has been painted white, and workers are beginning to add glass panels.
The whole project encompasses approximately 3.3 million square feet on three city blocks, including three 38-story high-rise office towers, two mid-rise office buildings and multi-purpose meeting spheres that will seat 1,800 people. When the new campus opens in 2017, the largest of the three spheres will be 95 feet tall and 130 feet in diameter. That’s about the size of a rectangular eight-story building. Amazon will employ a full-time horticulturalist to tend more than 300 plants from 30 different countries inside the biospheres, reports Geekwire.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos chose to build the campus in Seattle instead of the suburbs in an effort to attract talent. Young tech wizards tend to prefer the excitement and energy of the city as opposed to the slow lane of the suburbs. Bezos has also argued that a popular city campus is better for the environment because fewer people will be using fuel to commute long distances. But for residents who don’t work in the tech industry, that means less affordable housing in the city and unwanted relocation to outlying areas.
When completed, the spheres won’t be open to the public. However, passersby will be able to peek in at Amazon’s inner workings through the windows, and retail spaces on the ground floors of the other campus buildings will be available for public consumption. The tech bubble is truly blooming in Seattle, literally and figuratively. Once the glass panels are attached and all the spheres are painted white, residents will have an even clearer window into the future of the city.