A closer look at the Century Project at the Space Needle, one of five finalists in the 2021 GRAY Awards Commercial Architecture category.
The Century Project at the Space Needle
Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle has become an international icon of the Pacific Northwest and the identifying symbol of the Seattle skyline. Constructed in just over a year, the Space Needle pointed the way toward the future with a sense of optimism and possibility.
After 50 years, the Space Needle began exploring ways to update its visitor experience. Guest surveys revealed that the original thrill that people experienced when they first stepped off the Space Needle’s elevators in 1962 had been lost overtime, muddied by decades of interior renovations. In its 55th year, the Space Needle again looked to the future with the Century Project, a significant redesign that preserves the Space Needle’s legacy by creating a new visitor experience for the next half century. The scope of the project, which is certified LEED® Gold for Commercial Interiors, also includes necessary mechanical, building envelope, and structural updates such as seismic retrofitting and accessibility improvements.
The design team critically reviewed every component of the tower, removing any element that detracted from this experience of observation and inhibited external views. As a result, the renovated Space Needle incorporates 196% more glazing throughout the top house. This is especially dramatic on the observation deck, where interior windows have been enlarged to frame views in every direction. Outside, angled glass barriers and integrated glass benches allow visitors to 'lean over the edge,' providing a thrilling view of the city below. A new central staircase, clad in warm-hued wood, culminates in a glass oculus that highlights views of the Space Needle’s structure. A new rotating glass floor—the first of its kind in the world—also showcases the Seattle Center cultural campus below. This enhanced sense of transparency restores emphasis to the original guiding principle of the visitor experience: providing unparalleled views of the city.
Design Principal: Alan Maskin
Project Architect: Blair Payson, AIA, LEED® AP
Architectural Staff: Marlene Chen, AIA, LEED® AP, Crystal Coleman, LEED®
AP, Alex Fritz, Julia Khorsand, Hayden Robinson and Nathan Boyd
Interior Design: Naomi Mason, IIDA, LEED® AP
Interior Design Staff: Laina Navarro
Development Manager: Seneca Group
Owner’s Representative: Battle Management Consulting
General Contractor: Hoffman Construction
Structural Engineer and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineer of
Seismic Improvements Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Mechanical and Plumbing Design Assist Subconsultant: Holaday-Parks, Inc.
Electrical Assist Subconsultant: Holmes
Glazing Consultant: Front, Inc.
Lighting Design: Niteo
Building Envelope Consultant: RDH
Restaurant and Café Furniture and Finishes Designer: Tihany Design
Restaurant, Café and Kitchen Architect of Record: McVey Oakley
Turntable Engineer: Fives Lund Engineering
Acoustical Engineer: BRC
Accessibility Consultant: Karen Braitmayer
Code Consultant: T.A. Kinsman Consulting
Fire Protection Consultant: Eric Tuazon
LEED Consultant: O’Brien & Company
Vertical Transportation: FS2, Inc.
Photography: Hufton Crow
Date of Completion: October 2019
Additional Architecture, Commercial finalists:
Blu Dot Showroom
Check out the Quick List to see all of the 2021 GRAY Awards finalists!
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