Space Needle gets glass floors, better views in $100M renovation project

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

An ambitious $100 million project will modernize the Space Needle with floor-to-ceiling glass – giving visitors an uninhibited 360 view of the Puget Sound.

The 55-year-old Seattle icon will be reimagined in what the Space Needle team calls The Century Project. See photos here.

“I believe we’ll look back at this as a pivotal moment in the history of the Space Needle,” said Jeff Wright, chairman, Space Needle LLC. “This project both connects us back to our roots, to the vision that my father and his partners had when they built the Space Needle in 1962, and guides us forward into the future for generations to enjoy.”

The privately-funded, historic renovation project wants to take advantage of the technological advances made since the Space Needle was built to define the skyline in 1962 for the World Fair. Leaders believe the reinvestment ensures long-term viability of the Space Needle.


Key features of the renovation include:

  • New glass structural barriers will replace the wire safety “caging” on the outer open-air Observation Deck.
  • The new exterior glass barriers will match the flow of the building, dipping outward at a small angle, offering a seamless sight line.
  •  Sleek, canted glass benches will be affixed to alternating glass barriers on the outer open-air Observation Deck.
  • In the interior, floor-to-ceiling glass will take the place of low-level exterior walls creating uninhibited views from the moment guests step off the elevator.
  • In the interior, a dramatic new open circular stairway made of steel, wood, and glass will wind down from the Observation Deck to the restaurant level. At the base of the new open stairway will be a glass-floored oculus revealing views of the Space Needle’s steel superstructure, as well as the elevators and counterweights ascending and descending.

See video of renderings below, scroll down to keep reading.

  • The restaurant level will also feature floor-to-ceiling glass and will upgrade its original rotating floor to one of glass, creating an awe-inspiring new view — a look down to the Space Needle’s structure itself, the mechanics of the rotating floor, and the sprawling Seattle Center campus below.
  • On the Observation Deck, there will be improved accessibility with a custom-designed, state-of-the-art ADA lift and improved access with the addition of double-sized doors and wide stairways allowing for a more gracious, crowd-friendly ingress and egress to the outer deck.

The attraction will stay partially open during construction, which is expected to last from September to June 2018.  

Instead of closing and scaffolding the entire building, the project team will do most of its work from an elevated work platform just below the restaurant level.

Hoffman Construction Company and Seneca Group are working with the Space Needle on The Century Project.

This is the third major renovation in the Space Needle’s history. The SkyLine event space at the 100-foot level was added in 1982, and the new Pavilion entrance and expanded retail were added in 2000.

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