April 26 2013

Amazon Adds to Seattle’s Skyline

Rendering of Amazon's New Seattle Headquarters

How many high-tech corporations choose to locate their headquarters downtown? Very few. Often times we see corporate giants build their headquarters outside of city centers. Rather than following this trend and building a suburban campus, Amazon.com has decided to locate its headquarters in the South Lake Union Neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

The three-block urban design proposal will connect the South Lake Union neighborhood to the downtown retail core. The three new 37-story office towers will anchor the smaller, mixed-use buildings (also proposed on the block). The plans will integrate commercial space and public open space with the office space, a design decision that reinforces the company’s commitment to be less like a suburban corporate campus. Amazon also intends to increase public transit in the area by subsidizing more frequent service for the South Lake Union streetcar, which is within walking distance to the proposed complex.

Rendering of Amazon's New Seattle Headquarters

What are the benefits of locating downtown rather than in the suburbs?

  • It follows smart growth principles;

  • It builds upon the city’s existing infrastructure through infill development;

  • It links into an existing transit network;

  • It connects the company’s employees to downtown services and amenities; and

  • It is an investment in the city’s downtown economy.

Amazon does not intend to build a corporate campus headquarters, like many of its competitors in the region. It will build on an urban site that currently hosts expansive parking lots, in order to link a walkable urban neighborhood to the city’s central business district.

Do you think high-tech corporate giants will follow Amazon’s lead to build downtown?

Credits: Renderings of the proposed headquarters by NBBJ. Data linked to sources.

Amanda Bosse

Amanda Bosse is a former writer for the GRID. At the time she was writing, she was in the Master of Architecture program at the University of Washington. Growing up in the Midwest, she became interested in the dialogue between the individual structures and the urban fabric (including those structures not typically designed by architects). With a background in both architecture and urban design, Amanda was primarily interested in applying architectural thinking to solve larger scale design problems.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 26th, 2013 at 9:17 am and is filed under Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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