Samsung America Headquarters
San Jose, CA, USA
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. The second high-rise, Day One, opened in 2016.
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.
Connected via canopy to the second tower of the new headquarters, the spheres are 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.
The spheres, housing more than 25,000 plants from around the world, are a key amenity to help Amazon's employees think and work differently. In addition to the plants themselves, the interior also includes tree houses, bridges, a waterfall and a conference room enclosed by greenery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AIA Seattle, Honorable Mention
Seattle Design Review Program, People’s Choice Awards, 2nd Place, Highrise Category
Wired, “Amazon’s Expansive Biodomes Get Their First of 40,000 Plants,” May 6, 2017
The Seattle Times, “Amazon’s Spheres: Lush nature paradise to adorn $4 billion urban campus,” January 3, 2017
The New York Times, “Forget Beanbag Chairs. Amazon Is Giving Its Workers Treehouses,” July 10, 2016
The Seattle Times, “Amazon’s artsy, amenity-packed tower marks a reshaped neighborhood,” May 7, 2016
Popular Science, “Is Amazon’s Dome Headquarters the Workspace of the Future?” April 25, 2016
Seattle Weekly, “Using Nature as Inspiration, Architects and Designers Are Building Seattle's Biofuture,” March 15, 2016
BBC, “How the tech industry is redesigning the future workplace,” May 1, 2015
The New Yorker, “High-Tech Companies, Low-Tech Offices,” April 25, 2014
Wired, “Architects Invent the Future of Work,” January 17, 2014
NPR, “Check Out These Futuristic Tech Company Headquarters,” December 24, 2013
All Things D, “Amazon Builds the Spheres, While Google Opts for the Hulk,” October 26, 2013
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “Back to the city for healthy office spaces,” September 13, 2013
Fox Business Network, “Tech Giants Building New Corporate Campuses,” August 29, 2013
Fast Company, “Amazon Is Building A Biosphere For Its Employees,” May 23, 2013
Wired, “Amazon’s Urban Biospheres,” May 23, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, “Amazon Acquires Blocks in Seattle,” February 18, 2012
San Jose, CA, USA
Seattle, WA, USA