If you suffer from acrophobia and plan to visit Seattle any time soon, you may want to very carefully consider whether to include the Space Needle on your list of must-see tourist spots. But if a fear of heights isn’t one of your bugaboos, you won’t want to skip this iconic landmark, especially now that it’s been renovated.
Originally built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the newly revamped 605-foot-tall Space Needle now features technology and products not available at the time of construction. Walls, barriers — even floors — have been removed and replaced with structural glass. Most notably, the new, multi-level tower features the world’s first, and only, revolving glass floor and offers wide-open views as guests float above Seattle and take in Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, the Cascade, and Olympic mountain ranges.
The completely redesigned Space Needle 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. With 196% more glass than before, including the use of 10 different varieties, designers have created an immersive adventure revealing the 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.
Along with the installation of The Loupe revolving glass floor, architects have replaced partial glass walls with new high-tech panels to deliver the best view of Seattle.
A little higher up, at the 520-foot level, the indoor observation area has been renovated with glass doors and floor-to-ceiling seamless glass panels that deliver unobstructed views. The re-vamped outer observation deck features 11-by-7 foot glass panels that provide a completely open view. These glass panels dip out at a slight 14-degree angle and replace previous “wire” caging and partial walls. There are no walls and no seams — or “mullions” — between each glass panel, and nothing but open sky above. Positioned along alternating glass panels along the outer observation deck, 24 Skyrisers (inclined glass benches) allow guests to sit up, slide back, and experience a feeling of floating above the city… and the ultimate Seattle “selfie” moment.
“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.”
If you’d like to experience the revamped Space Needle for yourself, but can’t get to Seattle, check out this video.
Seattle-based architectural firm Olson Kundig worked 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 on the Space Needle renovation.