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NBBJ is working with Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, to revitalize Seattle’s Denny Regrade neighborhood with the creation of new corporate office space, ground-level retail and public amenities.

The project encompasses approximately 3.3 million square feet on three city blocks, including three 37-story high-rise office towers, two mid-rise office buildings and a multi-purpose meeting center that seats 2,000 people. To reflect Amazon’s community-focused culture, the design seeks to build a neighborhood rather than a campus, with emphasis given to ground-level amenities open to the public and to diversity in building character.

For instance, ground-level retail on each street front, sheltered pedestrian arcades and public art create a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood in an urban area formerly dominated by surface parking lots. The design also includes a public dog park, two-way cycle track on 7th Avenue, with dedicated entrances for bicycle commuters immediately adjacent to the main lobbies, and tower curtain-wall systems that extend upward to screen the rooftop mechanical equipment.

The first high-rise, named Doppler, was completed in 2015. At 37 stories tall, it contains offices as well as ground-level retail and restaurants, and it also links to the five-story, arena-style multi-purpose meeting center, which will serve the entire headquarters.

Spheres

The centerpiece of the new Amazon headquarters will be the spheres: a multi-story, glass-enclosed workplace containing tens of thousands of plants and trees from around the world. As exposure to nature is proven to put people at ease and help them think more creatively, the spheres are designed to help Amazon employees feel and work their best.

Overview

Currently under construction, the spheres occupy a prominent location at the center of the site, where employees can step away from their desks to think more collaboratively and more creatively while surrounded by nature.

Exterior

Connected via canopy to the second tower of the new headquarters, the spheres will be an employee amenity that also provides public benefits, such as public access to the entire first floor, street-level retail and parkland — including a public dog run — on the surrounding site.

Interior

The spheres, housing more than 25,000 plants from around the world, will be a key amenity to help Amazon's employees think and work differently. In addition to the plants themselves, the interior will also include tree houses, rope bridges, a waterfall and a conference room enclosed by greenery.

Design Computation

Design computation helped to generate the spheres, each a pentagonal hexecontahedron formed by tessellating a pentagon across its surface. Algorithms enabled the team to quickly generate a steel-and-glass structure that could be constructed efficiently and cost-effectively.

Fabrication

Three fabricators across the Pacific Northwest collaborated to create the structure. The primary steel components were fabricated in a warehouse for greater ease and safety, as well as to maintain strict quality control.

Installation

The structural steel was then shipped to the site and assembled by the ironworkers crew. Thanks to the precision of the fabrication process, components such as these fit together almost perfectly, with very few adjustments necessary.

Coming Soon

Even under construction, the spheres form a dramatic addition to the Amazon headquarters and a landmark in downtown Seattle, demonstrating the company’s long-standing commitment to the city of which it is a part.