Silicon Valley tech giants pride themselves on making office space more than, well, office space. Zappos has ball pits, LEGO’s new headquarters will offer rooftop mini-golf, and Google has built rooms for siestas. Not to be outdone, at least in unconventional building designs, Amazon is bringing a small jungle to downtown Seattle.
Tucked in between 6th and 7th Avenue, just east of Blanchard is the most striking feature of new Amazon complex designed by NBBJ. The three conjoined domes will house suspension bridges, a vertical garden wall, and an indoor creek. True to an Amazon working culture that’s a little stricter than the cultures promoted within the halls of its tech peers, this new complex is designed as a nicer place to work, rather than a place to combine work and play. That said, it’s not the Chrysler Building, and it’s certainly not a stuffy office. We’ve highlighted some of the cooler features of its designs.
4) Nature with Internet
“In terms of a building that does what this does, taking an office building and also sticking it in a nature preserve, we didnt find any precedents,” Dale Alberda’s partner, John Savo, told the Seattle Times. And this may be the best part of Amazon’s ambitious plan. They’ve been renting greenhouses outside of town where arborist Ron Gagliardo is growing the 3,000 different varieties of plants, some of them endangered or no longer found in nature, that will eventually make their way into the domes.
Amazon designs include our childhood dreams, treehouses that will dot the interior landscape of the dome. These treehouses are intended to be used for meetings and brainstorming sessions. However, for the sake of the plants, the temperature of the building will be kept at 72 degrees with 60 percent humidity. Treehouses and suspension bridges aside, it may be hard to think in those kinds of conditions.
2) Suspension Bridges
There’s nothing that gets the heart racing like crossing a death-defying expanse on a rope bridge seemingly unsuited to the task, and that’s exactly what Amazon wanted. “Amazon said, ‘Make this fun,’” Alberda told the Times, pointing out that it was his client’s idea to make the bridges just a little more wobbly than necessary. That said, how long before Amazon employees start recreating the Temple of Doom crossing?
1) It’s in the Middle of It All
Unlike other tech companies with headquarters on sprawling suburban campuses far from the hustle of an urban center, Amazon made a commitment to stay in downtown Seattle a decade ago, and since then, according to a New York Times article, Amazon has spent nearly $4 billion dollars to stay put. Their new building will follow suit. Amazon wanted to build something, “Iconic, a structure that would be similar to another icon in the city, like the Space Needle, for newcomers to Seattle,” John Schoettler, director of Amazon’s global real estate and facilities, told the Times. “It would be a found treasure in the downtown neighborhood.”
Unfortunately, the interior of the domes will be off limits to the public when the facility opens sometime in 2018, but the adjoining park will be open to all. Maybe the city can market it to Seattle residents as a zoo of sorts: “And if you look to your left, you can see software engineers in their native environment.”