Architecture

Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower gets a revolving glass floor

Seattle's iconic Space Needle ...
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
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A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
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A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
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Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
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176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
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The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
7/28
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
8/28
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
9/28
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
10/28
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
11/28
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
13/28
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
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Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
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176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
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The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
Cantilevered staircase inside Seattle's Space Needle tower
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Cantilevered staircase inside Seattle's Space Needle tower
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
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A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
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Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
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176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
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The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
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Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
25/28
A US$100 million makeover of Seattle’s Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades
Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
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Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle’s skyline
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
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176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
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The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
View gallery - 28 images

A US$100 million makeover of Seattle's Space Needle has been completed, with the iconic observation tower receiving a number of modern upgrades. Among the new features are a cantilevered staircase, a revamped outdoor observation deck and what has been dubbed the world's first revolving glass floor.

Built in 1962, the 605-ft-tall (185 m) Space Needle has become a defining figure of Seattle's skyline. It welcomes more than a million visitors each year to take in the views from its observation decks perched 500 ft (150 m) in the air. Completed over the past year, the renovation was predominantly designed to clear the way for even more impressive vistas, which meant replacing some of the tower's materials with a whole lot of glass – 176 tons of it, to be precise.

Wire caging and security walls on the outdoor observation deck have been replaced by huge glass panels that gently slope outwards with open sky above. The unobstructed panoramas are complemented by thick glass bench seating, intended to create a floating sensation for visitors taking some time out.

Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor
Seattle's iconic Space Needle tower has been fitted with a rotating glass floor

New floor-to-ceiling glass windows have also replaced partial walls for improved views from the inside observation deck, while a new staircase leading to the lower level is cantilevered from the Space Needle's core, freeing it from easily visible supporting structures.

At the bottom of the staircase, a glass oculus offers clear views directly toward the ground, as does the glass floor on the lower observation deck called The Loupe. This has been dubbed the world's first and only revolving glass floor, and invites guests to stand or sit 500 ft above Seattle, with clear views of the street along with the interesting components of the Space Needle's unique architecture.

176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower
176 tons of new glass were used in a renovation of Seattle's Space Needle tower

The Loupe is a rather remarkable feat of engineering. Its construction involved hoisting 37 tons of glass up into the sky and arranging it into 10 separate layers. The bottom four of these layers are soffit glass, which offer clear views downward from inside but opaque views from outside looking up.

The remaining six layers make up the revolving portion of the floor, resting on 48 rollers that are hooked up to 12.25-hp (9.1-kW) motors to power the rotations. The revolving floor can complete a full rotation in as little as 20 minutes and as many as 90. At present, it is modified to complete one full rotation every 45 minutes.

The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors
The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors

"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."

The revamped Space Needle is now open and receiving visitors, with prices starting at US$27.50 for adults and $22.50 for kids. The video below offers a look at the view from its observation decks.

Source: Space Needle

The Loupe – the world’s first revolving glass floor – Courtesy of Space Needle

View gallery - 28 images
4 comments
paul314
Wonder how many panic cases they'll be taking down.
vegascitylife
Being a Vegas resident myself I was a little biased to our iconic, Stratosphere, but being my first time in Seattle I was must excited to see the Space Needle. We went this past Friday to check the unveiling of the Space Needles new rotating glass floor and I must say its pretty awesome. I would definitely recommend experiencing this during the day. There's a couple of design and esthetic flaws that interrupt the full experience at night. First, the reflection from the ceiling interior lights cause an obstruction to the overall experience. The spot lighting positioned at the base of the structure shine upwards causing glare and again distracting from the actual depth and reality of the structure's height. The outside observation deck is shallow so on a busy day of tourists it can get crowded and cumbersome making it difficult to walk and to find a spot to settle and enjoy the view and experience. Also, from what we were told the design and management team haven't decided to keep the glass floor area an observation deck or transform it back to a restaurant that it once was. If you're in the Seattle area I highly recommend visiting this iconic structure. Also, don't skip the Chihuly Glass Museum while you're there.
Derek Howe
That looks awesome!
JeffK
The portion with the glass floor is optional, hopefully those who prefer an opaque deck will stay on the upper level. I remember my excitement at age eleven, visiting the "Century 21 Exposition" with my folks in 1962 and ascending the Space Needle!