... fern, that is. The tree fern was planted in Amazon’s Spheres — the landmark glass and steel domes at the heart of the e-commerce giant’s downtown Seattle campus. It’s the first of thousands of plants that will make the Spheres a refuge of greenery.
The landmark glass and steel domes at the heart of Amazon’s new downtown Seattle campus have hit a milestone: They now harbor a real live plant, the first of thousands that will make the so-called Spheres a lush refuge of greenery for employees of the e-commerce titan.
“Today the Spheres truly come to life,” said John Schoettler, the head of Amazon’s real-estate operations, in a Thursday ceremony for the planting of an 11-foot Australian tree fern raised in the company’s Woodinville greenhouse.
The three interconnected Spheres, the tallest of which will be 90 feet high, are the most recognizable architectural feature of Amazon’s $4 billion corporate campus being built in downtown Seattle.
When complete and open to Amazon staffers early next year, the structures will be home to more than 400 plant species, carefully tended by a team of in-house horticulturalists, led by botanist Ron Gagliardo.
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“I also call him ‘The Lorax,’ ” Schoettler said, referring to the Dr. Seuss character who speaks for the trees.
The point of the domes is to give employees a place to roam and think creatively, while remaining connected to nature even while in the middle of the city.
”The Spheres will provide that missing link to nature,” Schoettler said.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a speech at Thursday’s ceremony that the Spheres symbolize the “remarkable” transformation of downtown Seattle, and are an “incredible statement about the city, the region and its place in the global economy.”
Gagliardo, the chief Amazon horticulturalist, said in an interview that the planting of the tree fern represented a big step after three years of hard work, during which his team, which now totals four people, gathered and cultivated thousands of plants in preparation for their deployment in the structure.
“Now we’re there,” he said.
The Australian tree fern was one of the first plants in Amazon’s collection, he said. “When we got it, it was this big,” he said, holding his index finger and his thumb a few inches apart.