The Space Needle, one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, is unveiling a dramatically different visitor experience employing a modern twist on the ingenuity and innovation of the original 1962 World’s Fair build. Renovation of the 605-foot-tall structure features technology and products simply not available at the time of construction. Walls, barriers – even floors – have been removed and replaced with structural glass revealing a visceral experience the visionary designers of the Space Needle could only dream of. The new, multi-level tower features the world’s first, and only, revolving glass floor delivering wide-open views as guests float above Seattle.
The completely reimagined Space Needle experience dramatically expands views of Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and features several “firsts,” thanks to a $100 million private investment. The upper and lower levels are now unified by a cantilever grand staircase, the Oculus Stairs, creating a new destination that embodies the spirit of possibility Seattle is known for. With 196% more glass than before, including the use of ten different varieties, designers have created an immersive adventure opening up the awe-inspiring beauty of the Puget Sound region.
“This reinvestment ensures the long-term viability of the Space Needle,” said Ron Sevart, CEO, Space Needle. “We have a commitment to our team members, our guests, and to the community to preserve the Space Needle as a civic and cultural icon for future generations.”
Perhaps the most dramatic “first” is The Loupe, the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. Visitors to The Loupe can walk, stand, or sit on the glass floor suspended 500 feet above the city, taking in never-before-seen downward views of the Space Needle’s unique architecture and elevators. A 360-degree view of the Seattle Center Campus and surrounding cityscape is enhanced as the floor slowly rotates once every 45 minutes.
The new Atmos Wine Bar at the 500-foot level will complement the stunning views offering regional wine selections and the opportunity to relax and take in one-of-a-kind Seattle sunsets. Along with the installation of The Loupe revolving glass floor, architects have replaced partial glass walls with new high-tech panels that expand views and ensure that the Space Needle truly delivers the best panorama of Seattle.
A little higher up, at the 520-foot level, guests will be awestruck as they step off Space Needle elevators to be greeted by wide-open, completely unobstructed views. The indoor observation has expanded views with gracious glass doors and floor-to-ceiling seamless glass panels delivering unobstructed views of the Pacific Northwest’s beauty. The new Atmos Café provides light bites and refreshment while the accessible glass doors beckon guests to the re-vamped outer observation deck where giant, 11-by-7 feet glass panels offer a completely open – and thrilling – view.
The outer observation deck has been dramatically updated. The open-air glass panels of the outer observation deck dip out at a slight 14-degree angle and replace previous “wire” caging and partial walls. With no walls and no seams – or “mullions” – between each glass panel, and nothing but open sky above, uninhibited views are guaranteed. Positioned along alternating glass panels along the outer observation deck, the addition of 24 Skyrisers – innovative, inclined glass benches – allows guests to sit up, slide back, and experience an intense feeling of floating above the city, offering the ultimate Seattle “selfie” moment.
A new grand staircase now connects the upper and lower levels via an open circular stairway that is suspended and cantilevered out from the Space Needle’s core, showing no visually-apparent supporting structure. At the base of the curved new stairway is a glass-floored oculus that reveals the Space Needle’s superstructure as well as the elevators and counterweights ascending and descending.
While the Space Needle appears materially unchanged from the outside, the guest experience is no doubt forever changed.
“The Space Needle was built to help define the skyline of Seattle, but has become so much more,” said Karen Olson, CMO, Space Needle. “The Space Needle became the visual icon of the city and a symbol for the spirit of Seattle. The original designers of the Space Needle dreamed big, and we continued their vision with this renovation. With glass walls, glass barriers, glass benches, and even glass floors, visitors can feel like they’re floating over the city. The Space Needle has always featured some of the best views of the Pacific Northwest. Now it offers some of the most thrilling.”
Seattle-based architectural firm Olson Kundig, along with design and engineering partners Front, Fives Lund, Arup and Magnusson Klemencic Associates (MKA), and construction partners Seneca Group, Hoffman Construction Company, Herzog Glass and Breedt Production Tooling & Design have delivered the grand vision of the Space Needle’s founders – unobstructed, expanded views – by leveraging cutting-edge, modern-day technology. What the tower’s designers envisioned 56 years ago was marvelous, but their dreams were constrained by the limits of the building materials and 1960s technology.
About the Space Needle
The Space Needle is the celebrated icon of Seattle, second only to the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the most easily-identified global skyline feature. Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, it continues to symbolize the leading-edge innovation and technology that the city is known for and serves as a beacon into the future.