The third major renovation of Seattle’s Space Needle is underway. Local firm Olson Kundig is leading the $100 million Century Project, which began on Sept. 14, to expand and improve views from the observation deck, update the restaurant level, and reveal the tower’s internal systems, with hopes of bringing the 55-year-old structure closer to its original conceptual sketches developed in the 1960s by Edward E. Carlson and architect John Graham.
New glass barriers will replace existing "caging" and low-level exterior walls within the observation deck to improve visitors' views from the top. Sloped glass benches will be integrated into the outermost glass barriers, so guests can allow their feet to dangle off the side of the structure and capture the “perfect spine-tingling Seattle selfie,” according to a Space Needle press release. Entrances to the outdoor area of the deck will also be expanded to better accommodate crowds.
Inside, a circular staircase will connect the upper level observation deck with the lower level restaurant and lobby, which will be expanded. The restaurant space, which will be redesigned by Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design, will include floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and its rotating floor will be upgraded to glass as well. Users will find several transparent openings within the dining area's floor, revealing the Space Needle’s superstructure and the city below.
In the original sketches of the Space Needle, the windows appear exaggerated compared to how the design was actually carried out due to technological constraints. Today, with updated glass technology, the installation of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows will realize the original vision of the initial plans, ridding the use of mullions and frames.
Construction materials, which will include 176 tons of 10 different types of glass, will be lifted by a gantry crane attached to the 605-foot-tall structure’s roof. Still, only 30 percent of the deck will be impacted at a time, and the Space Needle will remain open to the public.
The project is expected to be completed by spring of 2018.