Willmott’s Ghost is one of three spaces open to the public inside The Spheres, a trio of plant-filled glass orbs at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. The restaurant on the ground floor of the building was designed by Heliotrope Architects, with interiors by Price Erickson and construction by Dovetail. “Like building a ship in a bottle,” says Helitopre Architects. “That was our experience when we collaborated with James Beard Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson, to create Willmott’s Ghost.”
The Spheres are glass-enclosed domes containing a cloud forest conservatory with thousands of flora from throughout the world and are the centerpiece of Amazon’s downtown campus. The design team drew inspiration from the unique geometry of the building and the bright, airy environments of modern art museums and galleries.
Enclosed within a spherical envelope, the area housing the restaurant proved an incredible – and inspiring – challenge, as much of the architecture is dictated by curves. Dark green leather banquettes and booths hug the glass perimeter, while curved walls clad in painted wood pickets define the dining room. The same color wraps the base of the marble-topped bar, which similarly bows through the space.
Avoiding the tropes of Italian restaurant aesthetics, the architecture and design evoke classical themes written in a contemporary language. “With a three-story jungle above, the restaurant takes its namesake from a thistle-like flower christened in honor of Victorian horticulturist Ellen Ann Willmott,” said Heliotrope in a project description. Serving Roman-style pizza and Italian cocktails, the eatery measures 1,900 square feet (177 square metres) and seats around 50 diners and can be accessed independently from the street.
There’s no place else in the world quite like The Spheres – designed by architecture firm NBBJ – a spot where Amazon employees can work in an environment that’s more like a tropical rainforest in the clouds than an office. Visitors can access portions of the orbs to admire the flora but are restricted to certain areas.