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News » US » Space Needle to get better views » published 14 Jun 2017

Space Needle to get better views

Seattle’s Space Needle – one of the world’s most recognised landmarks - is to get a US$100m revamp that open up the views through extensive use of floor-to-ceiling glass.

The newly announced Century Project is a multi-year venture focused on preservation and renovation of the 55-year-old icon. The renovation will update the structure’s physical systems and improve the visitor experience by dramatically enhancing the view.

The privately funded project will add floor-to-ceiling glass on the interior and exterior of the Observation Deck to further open up the 360° views of the Puget Sound area.

A first-of-its-kind rotating glass floor will be added to the restaurant level, unveiling downward views of the structure never seen before.

“I believe we’ll look back at this as a pivotal moment in the history of the Space Needle,” said Space Needle chairman Jeff Wright. “This project both connects us back to our roots, to the vision that my father and his partners had when they built the Space Needle in 1962, and guides us forward into the future for generations to enjoy.”

In partnership with design firm Olson Kundig, led by design principal, Alan Maskin, and project architect, Blair Payson, the project team has worked closely with the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB), local architecture historians and preservationists, a surviving original Space Needle structural engineer, and the community. The aim is to be consistent with the original design intent and respect the character-defining features of the Space Needle.

The Space Needle's owner has worked with its construction partners to create a construction approach that will allow the tower to remain partially open during construction. Instead of closing and scaffolding the entire building, the project team will do most of its work from an elevated work platform just below the restaurant level, allowing most of the structure to remain open to the public during construction.

Working with Hoffman Construction Company and Seneca Group, construction will start fully in September 2017, with some pre-work this summer. The initial phase of construction is expected to wrap by June 2018.

Key features of the renovation include:

  • New glass structural barriers will replace the wire safety “caging” on the outer open-air Observation Deck.
  • The new exterior glass barriers will match the flow of the building, dipping outward at a small angle, offering a seamless sight line.
  • Sleek, canted-glass benches will be affixed to alternating glass barriers on the outer open-air Observation Deck.
  • In the interior, floor-to-ceiling glass will take the place of low-level exterior walls creating uninhibited views from the moment guests step off the elevator.
  • In the interior, a new open circular stairway made of steel, wood, and glass will wind down from the Observation Deck to the restaurant level. At the base of the new open stairway will be a glass-floored oculus revealing views of the Space Needle’s steel superstructure, as well as the elevators and counterweights ascending and descending.
  • The restaurant level will also feature floor-to-ceiling glass and will upgrade its original rotating floor to one of glass, creating an new view — a look down to the Space Needle’s structure itself, the mechanics of the rotating floor, and the sprawling Seattle Center campus below.
  • On the Observation Deck, there will be improved accessibility including a custom-designed lift.


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This article was published on 14 Jun 2017 (last updated on 14 Jun 2017).

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