Amazon Spheres / 2017

ArchitectNBBJ Architects

The Amazon Spheres are the culminating piece of Amazon’s new campus in the heart of Seattle. Sitting between three new office towers, this medium-rise structure consists of three large intersecting spheres that contain a variety of vegetation ranging from shrubs to fully mature trees. The high spaces provide a decompressing space for employees, as well as retail and meeting rooms. Front provided consulting services from early system design through to global structural analysis and fabrication inspections. Expertise in glass coatings and treatments was employed to determine how to minimize heat gain while permitting enough light to maintain plant health and growth.

The unique project geometry presented many complications. Front collaborated with the architects to complete an exhaustive study of spherical panelization patterns, and to determine a tiling scheme that would provide the efficiency of repetition while maintaining both visual intrigue as well as variation. Additionally, we worked with the design team to develop a visually minimal secondary drainage system that did not alter the building appearance. Custom built software tools enabled Front to post-process these models, assess the structural interaction between façade and primary steel, and provide critical recommendations for system details. Finally, Front specified a full scale, two story laboratory mock-up test that was subjected to extreme loading conditions. This test thoroughly verified the computer models and provided confidence to the owner and design team that the system would perform as anticipated.