Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Inside the Spheres

3/27/18 A view of the top two floors

A couple of months ago Greg and I went to the Amazon Spheres visitors center, which is on the street-level floor of the bubble-shaped complex. Since it was the first time the public had access to the long-anticipated buildings, many were disappointed that they couldn’t go up into the terrarium-like space where all the amazing plants were. I knew that was off-limits to us, so I had checked my expectations, but I still hoped that we would get an opportunity to go inside the Spheres themselves someday. Recently Amazon began allowing the public inside if accompanied by an employee, so our friend Julie invited us. What a cool privilege it was to be inside one of Seattle’s most intriguing buildings!

3/27/18 A conference room "nest" atop the trees
As soon as we walked in, our glasses steamed up! The temperature is kept in the 70s and the air very humid, like a tropical rainforest. Normally I don’t like humidity, but after walking several blocks in the drizzly cold, it felt good to shed my down jacket and be instantly warm.

First Julie walked us around each level of the five-story building so we could take photos and experience the lush, surrounding green. All the exotic plants are labeled as in a botanical garden. Nothing is at right angles or has sharp corners; everything is curved or organic. Tucked in around all the plantings are small seating areas for employees to work quietly or hold meetings. (No employees have offices in the Spheres, but any can use the space whenever they want to. If I worked for Amazon, I think I’d find an excuse to go to the Spheres every day!) A concession area offers snacks to hungry Amazonites. I was tempted by the donuts, but I didn’t want to waste precious sketching time eating.

Julie had generously taken an hour and a half out of her work day to accompany us, so after our walk-through, I had to budget the remaining time carefully. So much to sketch, so little time – and all of it overwhelming! What to choose, what to choose?

3/27/18 Lush and green inside; cold steel and glass outside
I had my eye on the coolest “conference room”: the “nest” perched high in the trees. A meeting had just broken up when I started to sketch it, so I turned around to sketch the larger view of a couple of the upper floors first (top of post). When I had finished, another meeting had started in the nest, so I quickly sketched that before we moved on. The surrounding natural light made sketching delightful.

With only 10 minutes remaining, I had to think and sketch fast. I picked an umbrella-shaped tree with fern-like foliage. In the background of every view are those crazy windows that look like they should form a geometric pattern but don’t. Through the windows of the warm bubbles, you can see the cold canyons of steel and glass that seem so ordinary by comparison.

Soon enough, it was time to put our jackets on and go back out to cold reality. 

The Spheres from outside

The "green wall" is a popular selfie spot

Climbing vines on the pillars
The "nest" from below

The "nest" from above

Thanks, Julie, for a peek inside the fantastic Spheres!

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