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10.03.2013
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Amazon updates designs for Seattle headquarters.
Amazon's proposed "Catalan spheres" seen from above.
Courtesy NBBJ

Multimedia: View an expanded gallery of renderings of NBBJ's design for Amazon's Seattle headquarters on the blog.

NBBJ’s design of Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle has gone through a dramatic revision since its last iteration in May. The 3 million-square-foot project, which is sited in The Emerald City’s Denny Triangle area and South Lake Union neighborhood, will still be made up of three large towers surrounded by smaller buildings. But the central element—three large glass domes—has been given a dramatic facelift.

NBBJ calls the domes, located on the scheme’s Block 19, “conjoined Catalan spheres.” With a frame of white painted steel, the new design has moved beyond traditional cross-hatching, and now references the pentagons of a soccer ball. The forms are expanded and pushed to create an irregular pattern that evokes a combination of starfish and the petals of a flower. The domes are designed to house office space within a greenhouse setting; tall enough for trees to grow to maturity, the interior will be planted with flora from around the world.

 
The structure's patterns will evoke those of soccer balls.
 

NBBJ decreased the height of the domes to provide more daylight as well as more viable retail offerings on the lower level. The architects also expanded the neighboring public park, increasing seating and landscaping. An additional covered walkway provides protection during the soggy winter months.

If completed, Amazon’s campus would be the largest development in Seattle’s history. Its three elements—Block 14 to the south, Block 19 to the west, and Block 20 to the north—each include a tower of up to 37 stories tall surrounded by smaller buildings connected by sky bridges.

Three towers will surround the glass and steel spheres.
 

Block 14, the first phase in the three-phase project, is currently under construction. An office tower, a 2,000-seat auditorium, as well as retail space and more than 1,000 underground parking spots is anticipated to open in 2015, filling a lot that was previously parking and a building occupied by the Sixth Avenue Inn. Two buildings on the remaining two blocks will also be demolished, including the King Kat Theater on Block 19 and Toyota of Seattle on Block 20. Completion of phase two is projected for 2016 and phase three in 2017. The design of the three-block headquarters is expected to meet LEED Gold standards.

The city’s next Downtown Design Review meeting, which will weigh the redesign and subsequent changes, is scheduled for the beginning of October.

Ariel Rosenstock