Preservation Magazine, Winter 2018

The Space Needle, By the Numbers

Seattle’s most recognizable landmark started as a sketch on a coffee-shop napkin. Edward Carlson, an organizer of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, drew his vision of what would become the Space Needle while traveling through Germany in 1959. Architect John Graham perfected its flying-saucer shape, and the Howard S. Wright Construction Company built the 605-foot-tall structure, with an observation deck and rotating restaurant at the top. The Space Needle opened on April 21, 1962, the first day of the fair.

This past September, work began on a multiyear, $100 million renovation of the landmark, led by a team that includes Olson Kundig Architects and Hoffman Construction. The project involves upgrading all physical systems, replacing the wire enclosures surrounding the observation deck with new glass barriers, and adding an all-glass floor to the restaurant. Here’s a look at some of the details that have made this icon of Seattle’s skyline such a historic feat of design and engineering.

400: Number of days from when the land for the Space Needle was purchased until the day it opened to the public.

72: Number of bolts fastened to the Space Needle’s concrete foundation, which reaches a depth of 30 feet.

12: Number of motors that will rotate the all-glass floor of the restaurant, which was the second rotating glass restaurant ever to be built in the United States.

2.5: Thickness, in inches, of the new 11-foot-tall glass barrier surrounding the observation deck, which will offer unobstructed 360-degree views of the city and beyond.

Space Needle

photo by: Sarah McMenemy

The space needle was named an official City of Seattle Landmark on April 15, 1998.

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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