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Amazon proposes a colossal biospherelike Seattle campus

Forget the Space Needle, the e-commerce giant is planning to bring 3.3 million square feet of office space to Seattle in the form of mirrored towers and giant spherical domes filled with plant life.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Amazon's proposed design for its new Seattle campus. NBBJ

The latest fad for tech companies' new office buildings seems to involve making them as far-out and avant-garde as possible. And Amazon is the newest firm to jump on that train.

The e-commerce giant and gadget maker unveiled a slew of new drawings (PDF) on Tuesday that reveal a series of colossal, mirrored, biospherelike domes alongside a taller rectangular building that could be its new campus. The designs were created by architecture firm NBBJ and also include a copious amount of green space and landscaping.

The intent behind the design, according to the project proposal (PDF), is to "create an alternative environment" where "employees can work and socialize in a more natural, parklike setting."

"The generative idea is that a plant-rich environment has many positive qualities that are not often found in a typical office setting," the proposal says. "While the form of the building will be visually reminiscent of a greenhouse or conservatory, plant material will be selected for its ability to co-exist in a microclimate that also suits people."

According to the proposal, the offices will have in-house dining, meeting, and lounge spaces, as well as a "a variety of botanical zones modeled on...ecologies found around the globe." In all, the designs for the campus include 3.3 million square feet of office space, with three 37-story office towers. The three massive spheres will range from 80 to 95 feet high.

Amazon has been planning to expand its offices for a while. The company plunked down $1.16 billion for 1.8 million square feet of new office space in Seattle last October. The design proposal for its new campus is to be discussed Tuesday evening at a Design Review Board meeting at Seattle's City Hall.

While Amazon's design is unconventional, to say the least, the company is one of several tech firms to have proposed such futuristic and nature-friendly office buildings as of late. Apple is working on getting designs for a low-level, circular, spaceshiplike headquarters approved in Cupertino, Calif.; and Facebook is in the process of breaking ground on its swanky second campus in Menlo Park, Calif., which is a long, narrow, rooftop-gardened building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Here are some more images of the proposed design for Amazon's campus: