May 28, 2013

Amazon drops pretense, builds villainous super-lair


Amazon’s proposed new building will hold trees watered exclusively with the tears of booksellers.

Amazon revised plans for their new headquarters in downtown Seattle least week, replacing one proposed building at the center of the three block corporate campus with three interconnected steel and glass domes. The domes would hold five floors of mixed-use workspace, but would be modeled on botanical gardens and arch-nemesis headquarters from around the world.

The new building proposal has already drawn mixed reactions. The Seattle Times spoke to members of the city’s design review board.

“There’s something optimistic, forward-looking, experimental, exciting, whimsical about this building,” said Gabe Grant, a review board member who is vice president of Seattle-based HAL Real Estate Investments.

Mathew Albores, an architect on the board, wasn’t impressed. For pedestrians on the sidewalk, the spheres offer a similar urban experience to the EMP Museum and the Seattle Public Library, with scarce retail and no overhead rain protection, he said. And why, he asked, have more trees inside the spheres where the public won’t be allowed than outside in the adjacent public space?

“I like the nostalgic aesthetic,” said Thornton Naismith, AKA The Dark Mentallo through the mouths of his thousand puppet minds. “In recent decades there’s been this expectation that supervillains like Jeff Bezos and myself get darker, grittier. All of a sudden it was all lairs full of blood and, like, black leather. I think it’s marvelous of Jeff to say ‘to hell with it’ and build a villainous superheadquarters out of glass. Though god only knows where he’ll keep all those were-seals he’s been breeding.”

One Seattleite on the street told us “Yeah, it’s pretty enough. But it’s strictly inward looking–to benefit their employees not the public. Also, I might like it more without all those laser turrets and signs warning about rocket backwash.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” wrote an anonymous Amazon henchperson on the forums at “It’ll be nice to take a break from all the indoctrination on sub-basement 47 and eat lunch beneath a tree now and then. I wonder if they’ll get a Sbarro?”

“Derivative,” was the opinion of Grathnor the Tiger when reached for comment from within his cell on prison asteroid RU-84DD. “Jeff has clearly been modeling himself on Lex Luthor this whole time. The spaceships, the submarines, the quantum computers, the scalp wax endorsements. It’s clear. One of the great tragedies is that he has no Superman to go up against, and so he kicks around little guys hoping to trigger some big battle that’ll never happen. The man needs to read fewer comic books.”

“Oh, of course you’re going to call it a ‘villainous headquarters,'” said James Pheenie, AKA the Snorkeler. “Any time Jeff or any of the old gang tries to build something nice that looks even a little bit like a stage set from a soviet-bloc Bond movie spin-off, everyone immediately breaks out the incendiary ‘villain’ tropes. Can’t Amazon build something nice, just for the sake of it? It’s not as if these things are part of some terrible doomsday machine incubating quick-growing sentient trees. You’re being absurd. He already built that in Fresno.”

Amazon declined to comment for this story, or, not so much declined as cackled maniacally into the phone for three full minutes before we hung up.


Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.