Inside The Jungle In The Middle Of Seattle

Inside The Jungle In The Middle Of Seattle

My experience of a tour of Seattle's Amazon Spheres led by one of the designers.


Walking along the cold, soggy sidewalks of downtown Seattle, it is hard to imagine that exotic plants are able to thrive there. However, with the right lighting, temperature and amount of water, it can be a cornucopia of greenery.

View of the Amazon Spheres during the day. Photo by Amanda Marvin

Upon entering The Spheres, you are greeted with an earthy smell and sounds of nature that is bound to plant (pun intended) a smile on everyone's face that enters the building.

The Spheres, a new landmark, and a unique work environment are an ideal environment for a plethora of vegetation that is found in many different habitats of the world. This structure is finely tuned and regulated by a team that takes care of all of the different types of plants and their surroundings.

The Plants

All of the flora originates from the Western Hemisphere and was either donated or brought in by surrounding facilities, some of which are close to extinction.

View from a walkway during a tour led by Principle Designer Dale Alberda.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

The ecosystem is a home for carnivorous plants as well as species you would imagine only existed during the Jurassic Period.

From pitcher plants to unique variations of the palm tree family, like the one pictured above, The Spheres never fail to surprise visitors. Photo by Amanda Marvin

One plant, in particular, is a giant tree that was placed inside by a crane through an opening in the top of the magnificent glass domes. Commonly known as "Ruby" by Amazon employees and visitors, this fast-growing tree is the perfect centerpiece for a place such as this.

Ruby was first grown in a nursery, and she continues to thrive in The Spheres at a quicker rate than anticipated. Photo by Amanda Marvin

Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, I was introduced to the "tallest green wall in the United States" according to Principle Designer at NBBJ Dale Alberda. NBBJ, the architecture firm that designed The Spheres, joined Landscape Architect Site Workshop in October 2013 to plot The Spheres structure.

The green wall is chock-full of vegetation that begins at the floor and stretches to the top of the building. The coolest part? The plants along this wall are living free of soil, and the pockets that they live in sustain them with nutrient-rich water frequently.

The top of the 65-foot green wall being misted to resemble the environment of the Amazon. Photo by Amanda Marvin

The Atmosphere

The Spheres were created to be a workspace for all Amazon employees, and the outdoorsy aura makes for an innovative place to hold meetings, public speaking events and work on projects.

Amazon theorizes that the forward-thinking strategy of a completely vegetated office is destined to promote creativity as well as overall happiness for employees.

From Left: A sneak peek of the largest green wall in the U.S. as well as an inside look at the levels of The Spheres.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

With seating that ranges from lounge chairs to cozy bird's nest benches (yes, you read that right), The Spheres are an ideal space for working comfortably.

The "bird's nest" is located on a raised, wooden walkway that overlooks all of the growth inside. Photo by Amanda Marvin

A small coffee shop exists on the 2nd level, called General Porpoise, that supplies employees with cold brew coffee, snacks, and doughnuts. As well as the recycle bin and trashcan, there is a compost bin that is used frequently where biodegradable cups are discarded.

With multiple places to work throughout the structure, the atmosphere varies at every table, rocking chair, lounge chair, and bench. Tables surrounded by vines and Venus flytraps are scattered on different platforms for group work. Outdoor lounge chairs are located in a cozy section at the top of The Spheres that receive direct sunlight during the day and a calming dimness that is perfect for laptop work at night. Furthermore, there is a meeting room called the "birdcage" that overlooks the thousands of plants that reside in the glass globes. The walls of this particular room are made to look cage-like to promote plant growth that will eventually cover the entire surface of them.

A rocking chair on the 2nd level of The Spheres.Photo by Amanda Marvin

All of the furniture inside The Spheres are created to endure an outdoor environment. This ensures that the furniture won't be ruined by the atmosphere's humidity, and promotes a more outdoorsy vibe.

Amazon employees working at two different levels of The Spheres in a tree house environment. Photo by Amanda Marvin

"It's a jungle in the middle of the city," says Dale Alberda, the principal designer of NBBJ who took part in designing this magnificent glass environment.

The Amazon Spheres are now open to the public by appointment every other Saturday, and you can get more information at

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ASU Students Push For A Healthier Dining Hall To Counter 'Freshman 15' Fears

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap.


Arizona State University students are pushing for change within the downtown Phoenix dining hall as they strive to avoid the infamous freshman 15.

The downtown Phoenix campus offers fewer dining options than the Tempe campus and has a less appetizing dining hall. The freshman 15 is a common scare among students living in the dorms, who are often freshman.

The freshman 15 is defined as a student who gains 15 pounds or more in their first year of college. Studies prove the average freshman does not exercise the right amount, is sleep deprived, has a poor diet, increases their stress level, alcohol consumption, and fatty food intake, which is most likely causing their weight gain.

Lauren Hernandez

Daniella Rudoy, a journalism major and fitness instructor at the SDFC, relived her freshman year as she provided tips for incoming freshman.

"There are a lot of workouts you can do in your dorm room as long as you have access to YouTube or a floor. You can go on a run, a walk, or do exercises that do not require equipment," Rudoy said in support of college fitness.

Rudoy said that mental health, fitness, and nutrition all correlate with one another.

"I follow the saying abs are made in the kitchen. So if you are working out day and night, but eating a giant pizza and chicken wings with a pack of beer when you come home you aren't doing yourself much good," Rudoy said.

Lauren Hernandez

The main cause for weight gain is increased alcohol consumption. 80 percent of college students drink and this includes binge-drinking, which is unhealthy for many reasons.

Students who do not drink are most likely gaining weight because of their exposure to an all-you-can-eat dining hall. The downtown Phoenix campus offers a salad bar as their only consistent healthy option for students, therefore students are left eating hamburgers, fries, and pizza.

"I haven't been to the dining hall this semester. Last semester, I went because I had no other options. I am a vegetarian and the dining hall is not accommodating to those with allergies or food restrictions. I find it very difficult to find vegetarian options," Lexi Varrato, a journalism major said.

Lauren Hernandez

Varrato explained that she believes the freshman 15 is "100% real" and that incoming freshmen should research their meal plans and ask their school how their dietary restrictions will be accommodated before purchasing a non-refundable meal plan.

Megan Tretter, a nursing major at Seattle University emphasized that not every dining hall is like ASU's and that the freshman 15 is "definitely not a problem" at her school.

"I always eat healthy at my dining hall. There are a lot of good and healthy options at Seattle University. I usually go to the smoothie line in the morning, have a salad for lunch, and make myself an acai bowl after work with avocado toast in our floor's kitchen," Tretter said in support of her school's strive for healthy options.

College students across the United States have healthier dining options than ASU, but many colleges still face the same problems that students here are facing.

Tara Shultz, a journalism major at ASU believes she has avoided the "very real" freshman 15 by living at home.

"I believe the freshman 15 targets dorm residence and first-year students who do not live at home as they do not have their parents as a guide and are forced to eat at a dining hall that only serves fatty foods," Shultz emphasized.

Lauren Hernandez

The downtown Phoenix campus offers students access to the SDFC, YMCA, and Taylor Place gym, where students can take group fitness classes, run on a track, play basketball, or swim. Alternative options for students are purchasing a membership at Orangetheory or EOS Fitness.

Most students agreed with journalism major Vanessa Gonzalez that they have little time to work out due to their workload, but many students like Varrato, Tretter, and Rudoy explained that they try to work out every day as it is a stress reliever and it enriches their mental health.

Steve Fiorentino, the owner of Powered Up Nutrition encourages college students to learn what they are putting in their bodies.

"I think it starts with nutrition. Students believe they can outwork a bad diet and I believe that is their number one mistake. My advice is to stop eating fast foods and start eating whole and healthy foods along with supplements," Fiorentino stated.

The freshman 15 is an avoidable curse, but many students will continue to follow into its trap. The campus dining hall is not always the reason to blame as students have the option to decrease their meal plans, become active, and make healthy choices!

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10 Vacation Destinations That Are Worth Hopping Over To During Easter Break

Colored eggs and chocolate are not the only treats you can get for Easter Break.


Easter is a time to spend with family, have time away from school, go out with friends, and remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, it is also an opportunity to visit many fun and exciting locations. Whether you love swimming, dancing at clubs, indulging in five-star restaurants, or getting a massage, there are a variety of activities that will make anyone's Easter more enjoyable. Here are 10 vacation locations that will meet the needs of any family this Easter.

1. The Royal Hawaiian

Hawaii is one of the best places to visit for vacation. Families will love walking along the shore, getting delicious food or drinks at one of the many bars, and even stopping by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a massage at the Abhasa Waikiki Spa. If you are courageous enough, head out to the beach for surfing or just to relax. With so many sites to explore, this is a vacation that will bring lasting memories.

2. Berry Springs Lodge

Here is a nice and quiet location that is definitely a treat if you want to experience a less hectic vacation. The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is great for anyone who loves taking photos or exploring landscapes. There are two Whirlpool Suites with a fireplace, deck, and whirlpool that gives you an awesome view of the mountains. Activities include playing a game of pool and going on a mountain bike through the nearby trail, so try to stay observant and take in the environment.

3. Lake Austin Spa Resort

If you plan on traveling to a much warmer state for the holiday break, then this would a good choice. This resort is just a short drive away from Austin and is an excellent place to take it easy. Here you can stay at one of the cottages, take a nap by the fireplace, stroll through the outdoor garden, get a massage at the spa or have a seat in the hot tub. This is a vacation that will certainly take your stress away.

4. Fredericksburg

This is another city located in the state of Texas that features a special Easter tradition that families will love. Dress up for the Easter pageant and have a fun time. Visitors can see the Easter fires in the surrounded area that light up the night. There are plenty of food, drinks, and activities to keep everyone occupied, and ensure that they will have a happy Easter.

5. Bay St. Louis

Here is a vacation spot in Mississippi to celebrate Easter. All families will enjoy watching the sunrise and hunting for Easter eggs. Other activities to check out include the Stella, Blues and Barbecue festival for some tasty food and fun. There is also a yelling contest in which participants scream "Stella!" which is a reference to "A Streetcar Named Desire." No matter what you choose to do, this location will result in plenty of excitement, laughter, and possibly a sore throat.

6. Flagstaff

If you are traveling with a small or big family and do not mind the heat, then head down to this destination located in the very hot state of Arizona. The land is beautiful and gives photographers a chance to capture the amazing forests and mountains there. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the Snowbowl Ski Resort or if you want to take it slow, there is always Humphreys Peak where you will see gorgeous landscapes. Lastly, make sure to visit one of the restaurants that they have to offer for a delicious breakfast for an amazing start to the day ahead.

7. Lake Powell

This destination features cool rock landscapes and is located on the border of Utah and Arizona. Despite the place being surrounded by boulders, families can still have a fun time. You can take photos of the environment or visit a petting zoo. Take a walk around the land, find a spot to catch some fish for dinner, and you will agree this vacation definitely rocks.

8. Santa Monica

Here is an awesome vacation spot for anyone who loves working out and engaging in various outdoor activities. This is the place where you will find the Half Marathon for Easter. There are other options like the 5k, 10k, or 15k run, as well. The weather is sunny and it's a nice place to go for a swim, visit a farmer's market or participate in other Easter themed events.

9. Savannah

Do not let the heat discourage you from visiting this location. There are multiple gardens and parks to check out, along with markets and a music festival. If you are looking for additional fun, there is a Savannah Riverboat Cruise for families to travel around the city. There are a variety of delicious options for brunch or dinner, and other surprises for your holiday.

10. St. Augustine

During Easter vacation, there are so many things to do with family and friends. If you decide to travel to this location, you will enjoy the Easter parade known as the Parada de los Caballos y Coches or the Parade of Horses and Coaches. If you are looking for a nice family event, head on down to the parade and listen to the music. The horses and carriages are great to see as well, and there are multiple restaurants located around the city when you need a break from the festivities.

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