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Wire caging and security walls on the outdoor observation deck have been replaced by huge glass panels that gently slope outwards with open sky above.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.
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.
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 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
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