Amazon renderings released this week in a Seattle design review board meeting would have made the late Buckminster Fuller proud. They reveal new plans for an additional structure on the proposed three-block, three-tower Amazon complex in downtown Seattle: three five-story conjoined biodomes up to 95 feet tall, with the largest 130 feet in diameter. These glass and steel domes, envisioned by local firm NBBJ, would provide 65,000 square feet of interior flex work and brainstorm areas for Amazon employees, while leaving abundant space to accommodate trees and diverse plantings. Inspiration came from nature found indoors—in greenhouses, conservatories, and convention centers around the world. From Renzo Piano’s “Bolla” in Genoa, to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken in Brussels. (Fun fact: the largest dome in the United States—an indoor sports arena—is in fact in Washington State, in Tacoma, a city south of Seattle.) Far from ordinary, the design, still in design review, have stirred a spectrum of reactions from Seattleites—excitement, as well as criticism. With the exception of lower-level retail space, the biodomes would be open to Amazon workers only. It's an unusual move for a company that has kept a low profile in Seattle. See more here.
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Since AN first looked at the proposed design for Amazon's three-tower complex in the Denny Triangle neighborhood in Seattle last May—and after feedback from the Seattle community and meetings with the Design Review Board over the summer—NBBJ has released new renderings. And the project now has a nickname—Rufus—a nod to the late “Amazon dog,” a Corgi who kept employees company in the office since the early days. In response to recommendations, the evolved design includes updates to elevations, details along the lower stories, weather protection, and open spaces. Facades are asymmetrical, stepped, and diverse. In a skin study, the office tower on the southeast Block 14 sports a façade of operable windows, glass, pre-finished metal panels and gold accent trim, which connects to the neighboring meeting center via a sky-bridge. Other perspectives reveal glass curtain walls on the six-story meeting center, leaving the auditorium and stairwell exposed. On Block 19, to the southwest, a covered walkway would provide protection during Seattle's rainy winter months. There are retail storefronts on the lower levels, which will augment the outdoor public parks and plazas. The combined towers are projected to accommodate approximately 12,000 Amazon employees. A final design recommendation meeting is scheduled for next week, which will further address building materials, connections between towers and blocks, full building elevations, open space, and public art. Click on a thumbnail below to launch a slideshow.
The largest development proposed in the history of downtown Seattle—an approximately 3 million square-foot headquarters for Amazon—may take eight years to complete. Project details presented at a recent downtown design review committee meeting revealed that Amazon’s glassy three block project, designed by NBBJ (designers of the recently-c0mpleted Gates Foundation, also in Seattle), will be built in three phases of two to four years. The pieces—"Block 14" to the south, "Block 19" to the west, and "Block 20" to the north— would each include a tower up to 37 stories tall surrounded by smaller buildings connected by skybridges. Phase one at Block 14 on Leonora Street will include a 1 million square-foot tower and a 40,000 square-foot meeting space and auditorium building. Amazon's site resides in Denny Triangle west of Westlake Avenue, a small, but central neighborhood sandwiched between the downtown business and retail district to the south and South Lake Union to the north. Although the majority of the three blocks are now covered with parking lots, there is a building on each block that will be demolished: the Sixth Avenue Inn on Block 14, the King Kat Theater on Block 19, and a building occupied by Toyota of Seattle on Block 20. The most recent early design proposal focuses on plans for open space development on the site. Each will contain distinct landscaping, under the themes of "The Gallery," "The Park," and "The Garden." The first phase—the Gallery—will contain spaces for sculptures and other art; The Park will contain a larger field and an upper level dog area for the famously dog-friendly company; the last block will include a courtyard garden encircling the third tower. Check out more concept images and early design renderings below.
Even in these recessionary times, there are still big buyers who can afford to expand when the market is low. In Seattle, Amazon is in the preliminary stages of purchasing three city blocks in the Denny Triangle neighborhood north of the business district from developer Clise Properties, The Seattle Times reports. The properties are bounded by Westlake Avenue to the east, 6th Avenue to the south, and Blanchard Street to the west. Amazon is going big: intending to convert what are now parking lots into three office towers measuring one million square feet each. The total space will double the size of the largest skyscraper in Seattle, the Columbia Center. Amazon's current office space—over a million square feet distributed over several locations—is rented. This will mark Amazon’s first office ownership. An agreement with Clise will give Amazon the option to buy more of their holdings, which are part of a larger 13-acre site in Denny Triangle.