Amazon in the Regrade
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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, a mid-rise office building, a multi-purpose meeting center that seats 2,000 people, and the landmark The Spheres. 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 centerpiece of the new Amazon headquarters is 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, and are open to the public on weekends.
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.
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.
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.
The space provides a dynamic educational environment for employees and the public alike, with something new to discover on each visit. It’s a place for a walking, meeting or to work solo, to find solutions to pressing issues, or to take an invigorating, inspiring stroll surrounded by nature.
Center of Energy
On the lower floors of the high-rise buildings, NBBJ also designed the Centers of Energy: social hubs filled with employee amenities that bring an urban vitality into the workplace, encouraging employees to connect and collaborate outside of the traditional office environment.