Jessilyn Dagum, Staff Writer
One of Saint Martin’s most attractive qualities is its close proximity to the Pacific Northwest’s “Emerald City,” including all of the big businesses and top companies that are located there. One of Seattle’s most famous companies today is Amazon. Founded in 1994 by CEO Jeff Bezos, the online commerce company has made many contributions to its origin city. From cashier-less stores to works of modern art, Amazon has given its best to the city of lights. Amazon’s most recent gift to Seattle is the newly built “spheres,” that Seattle residents, as well as the world, have eagerly awaited.
On Jan. 29, Amazon held a grand opening for the spheres in the heart of downtown Seattle. While large circular sculptures aren’t necessarily surprising or new for a city like Seattle, it’s what’s inside them that have people really excited. While Microsoft employees have tree houses and Apple workers have what’s been called a “spaceship,” Amazon’s staff now has a rainforest.
The three giant glass-and-metal domes are filed with over 40,000 tropical and rare plants from more than 30 different countries, making it the one of the largest urban oases of the city.
“The idea is to create a place for employees to work and socialize in an urban yet oasis like setting,” according to Amazon. Plants aren’t the only things the company’s new building boasts; during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees were astonished to see the company’s artificial intelligence assistant’s familiar blue light as they looked towards the ceiling. The Washington Post, also owned by Bezos, reports that Bezos surprised his audience when he summoned Alexa to officially open the building. To which Alexa responded with, “Okay, Jeff,” as lights switched on and misters sprayed Amazon’s new “amazon.”
The architectural showstopper has been dubbed a new landmark in Seattle by several news outlets, and the latest tool for the retail giant that could “attract, retain and enhance the productivity and well-being of its fast growing workforce.” After more than six years of planning and construction, the enormous modern sanctuary is now open for various uses by its employees. Amazon’s staff can now “hold meetings beside a cascading waterfall, brainstorm in a third-story ‘bird’s nest’ or crack open their laptops and work amid a lush array of ferns, tropical plants and a 50 foot ficus tree nicknamed ‘Rubi’,” stated The Washington Post. As of right now, Amazon employees will have to reserve time slots in order to enter and utilize the building, but the company says it hopes, that overtime, they will be able to come and go from the unique workspace that’s aimed at inspiring collaboration and creativity.
Geometrically, the domes are 80 to 95 feet high and feature five floors of office space. Designed by NBBJ Design, one of the world’s top ten most innovative architecture companies, the structure has no enclosed offices, conference spaces or desks. According to NBBJ, for 12 hours a day, the temperature inside will be 68 to 72 degrees, with the average humidity seen in Seattle.
Guided tours of the Amazon Headquarters, which include The Spheres, are available for those who aren’t Amazon employees but will have to endure a long wait as tours have already been booked through June.