Understory at Amazon Spheres

Practice Area



Project Vision

The Spheres is the latest addition to Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters, and offers employees a work environment shared with over 40,000 plants, bringing them closer to nature as they work.

To explain this groundbreaking new building, Amazon established a free, public visitor center at The Spheres, called Understory. The name refers to the lush habitat between the rainforest floor and canopy and provides a fully immersive, 360-degree experience where visitors can get up close and personal with the science, engineering and plants behind The Spheres.

At a central media installation called “Spheres Immersion,” visitors can take in sweeping interior views of The Spheres above, as well as stunning macro footage of its world-class plant collection. The experience is composed of a large curved LED display, surrounded by LED columns. Interpretive zones within—demarcated by pools of light and featuring directional audio—offer voiceover descriptions of the plants on view. A generative soundscape enhances the experience.

Surrounding the central media experience is a series of modular exhibits displaying architectural models, construction materials, hands-on interactives and a rotating gallery of plants. Each station features an engaging physical interactive and a touchscreen interactive.

“Amazon: Here” explains how Amazon has worked to integrate their global headquarters into the heart of Seattle and gives visitors the opportunity to try their hand at urban planning: installing transit and bike lanes, green roofs and the occasional house perched on a skyscraper. At “Spheres: Plants,” visitors can trace the journey of the 55-foot-tall, 36,000-pound rusty fig tree—nicknamed Rubi—that was painstakingly brought from California and lowered in by crane.

Project Details
Design Team

Jill Randerson Exhibit Management (project and content management)


Niteo, Jesse Solomon Clark, Olivia Knapp