The Spheres is the centerpiece of the Amazon in the Regrade development in downtown Seattle.

The Amazon in the Regrade project in downtown Seattle won a grand award in the 53rd Annual Engineering Excellence Awards sponsored by the American Council of Engineering Companies.

Magnusson Klemencic Associates of Seattle provided structural engineering for the development, which was one of five Pacific Northwest projects honored in the 2020 awards. A total of 203 preeminent engineering achievements from around the world were recognized at the gala held virtually on Dec. 1.

Interstate 90 Hyak to Keechelus Dam Phase 1C at Snoqualmie Pass by Jacobs Engineering Group and Manning Crevice Bridge in Riggins, Idaho, by Atkins North America won grand awards.

Shoring design by Hart Crowser for Rainier Square Tower in Seattle and the Beaver Creek Fish Passage in La Grande, Oregon, by Anderson Perry & Associates won honor awards.

The 2020 Grand Conceptor Award for the year’s most outstanding engineering achievement went to the Copperhill Watershed Restoration Project in Ducktown, Tennessee. The 20-year restoration designed by Barge Design Solutions transformed a 50-square-mile site, severely damaged from more than a century of logging, mining and acid production, into a lush, clean and natural wonderland where residents now fish, swim and hike.

Amazon in the Regrade was built over a number of years and completed in 2019. It covers three city blocks in the Denny Regrade neighborhood, and includes three 38-story office towers, retail, large assembly rooms, outdoor public areas and The Spheres as its iconic centerpiece, Magnusson Klemencic Associates said in a press release.

It said Amazon’s goal with the new development was to reinvent the idea of a corporate campus, favoring an urban, sustainable and vertical design integrated into and enhancing the neighborhood, as opposed to the typical suburban campus.

NBBJ was the architect for the 5.2 million-square-foot project. The team included Seneca Group, owner representative/development manager; Sellen Construction, general contractor; Site Workshop, landscape architect; and Coughlin Porter Lundeen, civil engineer.

Magnusson Klemencic Associates said ACEC specifically recognized the structural systems it engineered for the project. In addition to solving the usual challenges associated with wind and earthquakes, the design team invented a first-of-its-kind structural system for The Spheres.

The Spheres are three intersecting glass-and-steel meeting space conservatories designed to enhance employee creativity and collaboration, and be a respite from office work.

They have treehouse meeting rooms, waterfalls, a four-story “living wall” and over 40,000 exotic plants. With an overall height equivalent to a nine-story building, The Spheres have diameters of 130, 100 and 85 feet. Their sculptural structural steel was created from a shape within the plane of a pentagon, then repeated 60 times to make up a complete sphere.

MKA said the entire project is an example of sustainable building design. Amazon created an eco-district in cooperation with the owners of the nearby Westin Building to capture the excess heat that was previously vented from data centers in that building. The heat serves as an energy source for the Amazon in the Regrade campus, which MKA estimates will save the environment from approximately 80 million kilowatt hours of electricity use over 25 years, an amount equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions of 65 million pounds of coal.

ACEC represents more than 600,000 engineers, land surveyors and other technical specialists.

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