Space Needle to get a $100M facelift with better views, floor-to-ceiling glass

This rendering shows a cross-section of the tophouse of the Space Needle. It shows such renovations as exterior glass barriers and additional doors and stairways. (Rendering courtesy of Olson Kundig)

SEATTLE -- The Space Needle promises better views and floor-to-ceiling glass on the interior and exterior in the third renovation in the 55-year-old landmark's history.

This $100 million renovation, known as the Century Project, will also include a restaurant with a rotating glass floor. The renovation was announced Monday.

“I believe we’ll look back at this as a pivotal moment in the history of the Space Needle,” said Jeff Wright, chairman, Space Needle LLC., said in a news release. “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.”

The project includes design firm Olson Kundig led by design principal, Alan Maskin, and project architect, Blair Payson.

The Space Needle said the team worked with the the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, local architecture historians and preservationists, a surviving original Space Needle structural engineer and the community" to be consistent with the original design intent and respect the character-defining features of the Space Needle."

The Space Needle says among the key features of the renovation are :

  • 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 dramatic 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 awe-inspiring 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 with a custom-designed, state-of-the-art ADA lift and improved access with the addition of double-sized doors and wide stairways allowing for a more gracious, crowd-friendly ingress and egress to the outer deck.

Work by Hoffman Construction Co. and Seneca Group will start in September, though some initial work will be done this summer. The initial phase of construction is expected to end by June 2018. Later phases of the project will include completion of the restaurant and lounge, updated and repainting the needle.

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