It was a cold day in February when we took a field trip to the north end of downtown, pretty much Belltown, also bordering the shiny new neighborhood of South Lake Union. The Amazon building boom is in full swing there. Seemingly dropped into the middle of construction cranes, giant holes in the ground, and a bevy of recently opened lunchtime eateries are the Amazon Spheres.
The Spheres – capitalized, for they are intended to become another Seattle icon, we imagine – house more than 40,000 plants from 30-plus countries, creating an atmosphere in which employees can think and work in a way that is different from traditional workspaces. The average, non-Amazonian cannot enter the bio-workspace, but you can tour the “Understory” as it is known. This first-floor space offers a free, self-guided tour of exhibits explaining the purpose of the spheres, the planning and construction of them, and the flora that they house. From outside, you can glimpse a huge wall of plants and one or two of the “bird’s nest” structures employees can climb to do their thinking in the virtual clouds. More in-depth, private tours are available, but as of this writing they are booked up months in advance and not the subject of this blog entry.
The compact, rolling open space between one of Amazon’s office buildings and the Spheres features a charming dog park, where we enjoyed watching several friendly pups frolicking in the cold. It was so popular that one wonders how soon the odd, artificially turfed space just below will become doggie park II.
If the weather is fine, the outdoor space makes a great picnic area for your purchases at the Amazon Go store next door. It’s a (currently) novel experience where you download the app, which automatically ties to your existing Amazon account; scan the bar code upon entering; then pull food items off the shelves and leave without stopping at a cashier stand. The selections include ready-made sandwiches, salads, snacks, and beverages, as well as pantry staples and enough items to pull together a simple meal…with adult beverages to boot. The make-your-own-dinner-box for two looked fun and reportedly is very tasty. As you might imagine, prices are quite competitive.
So, if you’ve done all of the other Seattle attractions, you might as well add this one to your list of accomplishments. Or, if you’re already downtown, take an hour (or less) out of your touring schedule to check out the Spheres. They are located at 2101 7th Avenue, easily accessible by bus from 9 Cranes Inn. Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.