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Plants Take Center Stage As Amazon Spheres Officially Open

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Ted S. Warren
/
AP Photo
Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon.com, takes a walking tour of the Amazon Spheres, three plant-filed geodesic domes that serve as a work- and gathering place for Amazon employees, following a grand opening ceremony, Monday, in Seattle.

The three large glass domes at the heart of Amazon's downtown Seattle headquarters officially opened Monday. The spheres function as both another workspace for Amazon employees and an indoor rainforest.

The spheres are home to more than 40,000 plants. Some of the notable sights include a 50-foot tall ficus named "Rubi" and thousands of square feet of so-called "living walls." 

Gov. Jay Inslee, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan made remarks during the spheres' opening ceremony Monday. They touted the structure's unique architecture and Amazon's importance to the region.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also made a rare public appearance, invoking Amazon's voice-activated assistant Alexa to help open the spheres. He was then led on a tour of the plant life by the company's head horticulturalist.

The spheres have been under construction for about two and a half years. The initial designed emerged in 2013.

They will serve as another space for Amazon employees to work and meet. They feature several different seating areas, a bird-cage-style conference room and places to buy coffee or lunch.

The majority of the spheres will not be open to the public. The building does include a visitors' center called The Understory on the ground floor. 

"This is office space, so we don't invite the public into our office space in the towers," said Amazon Vice President of Global Real Estate and Facilities John Schoettler. "This is just a unique opportunity here to creat some office space and something, again, that's never been done before."

The spheres will also be a part of Amazon's headquarters tour. But Schoettler says those are booked through June.

Amazon employees also have to register in advance for space in the spheres. Schoettler noted even those are booked through April.

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.
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