The Century Project for the Space Needle
- Olson Kundig
Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle has become an international icon of the Pacific Northwest and a symbol of Seattle. Constructed in just over a year, the Space Needle pointed the way toward the future with a sense of optimism and possibility. In its 55th year, the Space Needle is again looking to the future with the Century Project, a significant redesign that will preserve the Space Needle’s legacy by creating a new visitor experience for the next 50 years.
Led by Design Principal Alan Maskin, Olson Kundig’s design of the Space Needle’s new observation deck and restaurant level “core and shell” builds on the same conceptual premise that originally informed the Space Needle – a place devoted to observation. The new design includes the world’s first rotating glass floor on the restaurant level, floor-to-ceiling glass barriers with integral glass benches on the observation deck, a new steel and glass stairway with a glass-floored oculus connecting all three floors, and revised interiors throughout the “top house” of the Needle. The Space Needle’s new enhanced sense of transparency continues Olson Kundig’s longstanding interest in breaking down lines that demarcate inside and outside, bringing emphasis back to the Needle’s original guiding principle: providing unparalleled views of the city.
“In some respects, our design for the Space Needle was more subtractive than additive, peeling away the many decades of additions and modifications that deviated from the purity of the original 1962 design. Our task was to comprehend and make the original structure more legible to visitors. The design allows visitors to witness the constantly changing city of Seattle below them – as it was always intended to do – and also to see the engineering brilliance of the design in new ways.” ― Alan Maskin, Design Principal
Olson Kundig’s transformation of the landmark tower is focused on revealing the ingenuity of the original structure, parts of which, including the mechanics of the revolving floor, will be made visible for the first time. Improving the visitor experience was a primary design directive, with the revolving glass restaurant floor being a key component. This new transparent floor will provide a 360-degree rotating window that guests can walk on, revealing a new view down the Needle’s steel superstructure to the Seattle Center campus below. The scope of the project, which is targeting LEED® Gold certification, also includes necessary mechanical, building envelope and structural updates such as seismic retrofitting and accessibility improvements.
Project team: Alan Maskin, Design Principal; Blair Payson, LEED® AP, Project Architect; Marlene Chen, AIA, LEED® AP, Crystal Coleman, LEED® AP, Alex Fritz, Julia Khorsand, Hayden Robinson, Nate Boyd, Architectural Staff; Naomi Mason, IIDA, LEED® AP, Interiors Lead; Laina Navarro, Interiors Staff
Key Consultants: Hoffman Construction Company, General Contractor; Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Engineer of Record for glazing system and engineer for structural improvements below "top house"; Arup, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer and Electrical Engineer; Niteo Lighting, Lighting Design; Cite Specific, Specifications; Front, Glazing Consultant